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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:15 AM   #1
SamIchi
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I Want To Learn How To Play The Piano

I have no musical experience what so ever. Don't know how to read it, and don't know the lingo. My only musical outlet is Garageband, I need to expand. Any suggestions for starters? With some money I saved up, I think I can get some decent equipment. I was thinkin' about getting something that can hook up to my Mac and start actually playin' and possibly creating music one day.

Any help would be appreciated. I guess this is my New Years resolution but it's been in my mind forever.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:19 AM   #2
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I took 2 years of piano in high school and unforantly nothing of it stuck with me. I have made my own song in garageband while I was screwing around though. If you start, make sure you are committed, otherwise it will be a waste of time and money.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:24 AM   #3
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I learned in 1st grade, the trick is to learn it right the first time then have to relearn after. Take private lessons it's the only way to really learn.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:32 AM   #4
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Two pronged approach:

1)Lots of time learning by ear.
2)Lots and lots of time sight reading.

as for the former, it's all that really matters. As for the latter, get over the basics as quickly as you can. Get awesome at note recognition. There are great drills at www.emusictheory.com
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:36 AM   #5
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I learned in 1st grade, the trick is to learn it right the first time then have to relearn after. Take private lessons it's the only way to really learn.
I wish I knew where to look for a good teacher.

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Two pronged approach:

1)Lots of time learning by ear.
2)Lots and lots of time sight reading.

as for the former, it's all that really matters. As for the latter, get over the basics as quickly as you can. Get awesome at note recognition. There are great drills at www.emusictheory.com
Thanks for the site, I'll give it a look.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:58 AM   #6
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Finally a subject that I can actually contribute to rather than simply receive advise! I'm a professional musician (I teach at Georgia State University) and I have written a music theory webcourse for beginning music students (high school seniors planning on studying music in college). Take a look and see if it is any help to you. If it is, you probably won't need to study all 17 lessons, but just the first ones that help with learning to read notes and note values. Good luck and happy new year!
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 01:01 AM   #7
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Finally a subject that I can actually contribute to rather than simply receive advise! I'm a professional musician (I teach at Georgia State University) and I have written a music theory webcourse for beginning music students (high school seniors planning on studying music in college). Take a look and see if it is any help to you. If it is, you probably won't need to study all 17 lessons, but just the first ones that help with learning to read notes and note values. Good luck and happy new year!
very nice, that should help a beginner.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 01:35 AM   #8
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i learned piano for seven years. if you have the time, you can get good fast. but i quit because high school is very hectic. i took private lessons for all 7 years and some tips i have to say are:

~Go to a music store and buy some beginner books.

~Maybe you can hire a teacher to help you start off.

~Digital pianos are good because you dont have to tune them, but with regular wooden pianos it just gives a richer sound IMO.

~If you like classical music, try it, you can impress a lot of people...at least in my music class i did.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 03:07 AM   #9
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One of the best and easiest option if you are a college student is take a piano class. Most schools offer beginning piano as an elective. You learn the basic in a group setting, and you get access to practice room and prof you can ask question to. If you are in high school and your high school offers concurrent enroll you can probably do the same thing or just pay the cash and attend.

If those aren't option, I'd recommend you look into just taking some piano lesson. It is worth the investment even if you think it is lame. You will learn the fundamentals and if you want to teach yourself after you have the ball rolling then that is fine. Learning the fundamentals in playing any instrument is really important IMHO. Like the previous poster said goto a music store that sells piano and stuff. You will find all the info you need to find a teacher there.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:43 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for their input. Any suggestions for a digital keyboard?
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:55 PM   #11
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As little bells and whistles as possible. You want full size keys that are weighted somewhat like a real piano. Don't even bother with the lighted key ones as thats not going to help you learn. A full piano has 88 keys so you will want a keyboard with at least 56.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 12:58 PM   #12
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I second the private lessons. I've been playing for sixteen years, and I still find myself going back to private lessons (and then quitting... and going back... heh). You really need someone who can watch you play and listen and critique. You said you don't know where to find one, but I'd really suggest looking in the phone book or even going to the grocery store and looking at the bulletin board for a flyer, because I guarantee you there are at least two or three starving piano teachers who want nothing more than another student.

As for a keyboard, make sure it has a number close to the 88 keys (some come with much less, I would avoid those or else you'll find yourself not able to play entire songs because they go up too high or too low and you don't have the keys!) and touch-sensitive keys so that varying the pressure will control the volume. Those (dynamics) are extremely important. Finally, make sure it has a sound that you can stand to listen to for hours a day for years. A lot of keyboards don't even sound like a piano at all, and they get annoying after two minutes.

All that said, I have a Yamaha Portable Grand (where they supposedly mapped actual grand piano recordings to the keys). It's not the best, but it's better than a lot of the other keyboards out there.

Finally, (sorry, long post) remember that keyboards are VERY different than pianos in the feel, sound, and overall experience. If you can possibly get an upright piano, even and old junky one as long as it works, I would strongly recommend doing so. But I know those suckers are a LOT of money so a keyboard will do.

I hope this helps. Good luck!! The piano is a beautiful thing.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 01:13 PM   #13
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I second the private lessons. I've been playing for sixteen years, and I still find myself going back to private lessons (and then quitting... and going back... heh). You really need someone who can watch you play and listen and critique. You said you don't know where to find one, but I'd really suggest looking in the phone book or even going to the grocery store and looking at the bulletin board for a flyer, because I guarantee you there are at least two or three starving piano teachers who want nothing more than another student.
I know I can find one, but I don't know their background. I've never taken private lessons for anything so I guess it's kind of intimidating. What would be a reasonable rate for private lessons?

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Old Jan 1, 2007, 02:51 PM   #14
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I know I can find one, but I don't know their background. I've never taken private lessons for anything so I guess it's kind of intimidating. What would be a reasonable rate for private lessons?
I don't know of this is considered reasonable, but I'm paying $50/month (each) for weekly lessons for my daughters. Books are extra.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 03:27 PM   #15
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I don't know of this is considered reasonable, but I'm paying $50/month (each) for weekly lessons for my daughters. Books are extra.
I'd say that's quite reasonable. I pay $20 a week, myself.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 07:59 PM   #16
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If you're serious about learning piano I would highly recommend you take lessons since you have no other musical experience. Ask around at a music store, or actually a lot of people who play organs at churches give lessons on the side. Try out a teacher, if you don't like him/her it's no big deal, you can always go find somebody else.


If you're going to buy a keyboard make sure to spend the money on one with weighted keys. It feels much more natural and if you try to go between an unweighted keyboard and a real piano it won't feel right at all.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 07:28 AM   #17
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I have no musical experience what so ever.
Playing the piano (and indeed almost any musical instrument) involves three fundamental, but very different skills:

1) An understanding of basic music theory. Why do some notes (or combination of notes) sound "right" - while others sound jangly and horrible? The basics of tempo and rhthym. What it means if a song is written or played in the key of "C". Why do minor chords sound so different from major ones?

2) Developing the physical dexterity and muscle memory to play the variety of notes, and combination of notes, quickly, smoothly, and (important for pianists) precisely the right amount of force to make your song sound right.

3) The ability to combine the previous two skills. For some people this means "sight reading" - being able to pick up a piece of sheet music and immediately start playing. For others it means being able to improvise, and create new music while sitting at the keyboard.

There is no other way of saying it: Developing the physical skills takes practice. Lots of it.You might be able to pick out simple ditties in a couple o hours, but being able to competently and musically play most sheet music will take many, many hours of practice. The amount will vary from person to person, and depends to a great extent on how focused your practice scheme is. In other words, if you keep practicing what you can already do - then you won't make progress in new areas.

Developing your knowledge of music theory is, IMHO, less "sexy" - but its equally important - especially if you have any interest in creating your own music. If you were to devote an hour a day to learning the keyboard, I'd set aside at least twenty minutes to theory and "ear training" (the ability to recognize notes and chords when you hear them).

A couple of notes on equipment: The Mac and Garageband make hooking up a digital keyboard very easy. And due to space and cost considerations this may be a better choice than a traditional piano. But if you go this route, buy the best digital keyboard you can afford: Make sure it has a physical action (the way the keys feel when you press them) that most closely mimics that of a real piano. Make sure it has full sized keys. And make sure it can accommodate an external sustain pedal. (You'll very quickly come to understand why this is important ) Lastly, if you go this route also buy a keyboard stand and bench that allow you to maintain a proper sitting posture. The way you sit and type at a computer is very, very different from the way you need to sit at a piano.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 10:37 AM   #18
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Although you can learn an instrument by yourself, I personally think it's best to start out taking lessons - at least until you get the fundamentals down.

BTW, music theory is a very difficult subject to learn. I don't recommend it to anyone.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:07 AM   #19
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I know I can find one, but I don't know their background. I've never taken private lessons for anything so I guess it's kind of intimidating. What would be a reasonable rate for private lessons?
My son takes individual lessons once a week for half an hour ($155/month) and group band lessons once a week for 1 1/2 hours ($100/month).
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:13 AM   #20
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Although you can learn an instrument by yourself, I personally think it's best to start out taking lessons - at least until you get the fundamentals down.

BTW, music theory is a very difficult subject to learn. I don't recommend it to anyone.
Music theory is one of the hardest courses you can take. Even for skilled pianists the content is insane!
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:21 AM   #21
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Music theory is one of the hardest courses you can take. Even for skilled pianists the content is insane!
You should study up on improvisational jazz. That my friend is hard as hell.

Musicians don't just sit around and start playing anything they like. There is structure to improv. jazz.

I started out on the trumpet at 9 years old. Went to french horn ( first chair ) then drums all the while taking piano lessons every day and plucking on the guitar.

Learning to play the piano is very frustrating. Especially the sheet music reading part and the hand placements.

And it is a lifetime endeavor .

Good luck OP. Don't give up.

Remember the circle of fifths.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:53 AM   #22
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You should study up on improvisational jazz. That my friend is hard as hell.

Musicians don't just sit around and start playing anything they like. There is structure to improv. jazz.

I started out on the trumpet at 9 years old. Went to french horn ( first chair ) then drums all the while taking piano lessons every day and plucking on the guitar.

Learning to play the piano is very frustrating. Especially the sheet music reading part and the hand placements.

And it is a lifetime endeavor .

Good luck OP. Don't give up.

Remember the circle of fifths.
Ya improve jazz is hard. But it is all learning the chord progressions. For me the circle of fifths is the easy part. Key changes is what you really need to master. A song that starts out in G major and shifts to F# minor takes work.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:55 AM   #23
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Ya improve jazz is hard. But it is all learning the chord progressions. For me the circle of fifths is the easy part. Key changes is what you really need to master. A song that starts out in G major and shifts to F# minor takes work.
that's where the hand placement comes in. Changing keys becomes easy after mastering finger placement. Just up to the black keys. Kinda sorta.

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Old Feb 26, 2013, 11:59 AM   #24
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that's where the hand placement comes in. Changing keys becomes easy after mastering finger placement. Just up to the black keys. Kinda sorta.

Most of my lessons growing up where classical, Jazz is just a whole different breed. Going from in depth sheet music to jazz charts where you just go off of chords is a learning curve.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 01:14 PM   #25
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One thing I regret is not taking instrument lessons when I was a kid. I totally wish I could play the piano or guitar.
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