Learning the piano yourself - Advice and counsel

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Postby Stretto » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:21 pm

Guest wrote:I am brand new to PEP and so glad to have found such an informative site. I was wondering if there are any piano methods for beginners out there, that any of you would recommend. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Are you wanting to teach piano to yourself or take lessons? Do you want to use a computer program to teach yourself or learn out of method books?

I would say that most of the main stream method/lesson books are more geared toward use in conjunction with taking piano lessons with a teacher, unless you have some musical training and are using them for review. If you want to teach yourself, then I would say to look for a method specifically designed for teaching yourself to play. You may want to post back as to whether you were considering teach yourself computer software or ? I am not so familiar with the latest from the computer end of things, but others I'm sure could offer some help.
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Wed Sep 28, 2005 10:49 am


I'm writing to warn all members and readers to beware of an email you may get from Raymond somebody-or-other, who claims to be from Netherlands and wants you to teach his son for three months. This is obviously bogus: the actual sender's address is different from the return link he provides, and it is clearly sent to a lot of people since there is no mention of location or dates. Do NOT answer, open any attachment, or click on any links in this letter--they usually contain viruses or scams of some sort.

I received two of these at once today.

Dr. Bill Leland.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby opera » Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:17 am

AFlat - thank you for your response to my post.
The hyperlink page was most informative and extremely helfpfull. It was very directional in terms of what to concentrate on when chosing a beginner's method. so far it looks like "Play by Choice" has really good reviews and leaning towards it. Hope is the right decision. thank you again
my apologies for late post - had some tech. issues cleared b4 could post.
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Postby opera » Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:20 am

Stretto thank you for your help....at the moment I can not afford paying for piano lessons and the only remaining alternative, for the time being would be teaching myself. Fortunately am not new to music in general, but dfntly a novice in piano and I think that may help a bit,,,I hope anyways. Thank you for all the pointers. I appreciate it.
sorry for late post but as I mentioned to Aflat had some tech issues. thank you again.
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Postby Glissando88keys » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:43 pm

Guest wrote:Is software alone adequate for the beginner or should it be supplemented?
Is there something I should know that would help me especially with freestyle church music?

I just happened to run across you post, Tatyana. The question you posted was exactly one year old, today.

I found a wonderful book that teaches freestyle church music, and I have used it to play piano at my church. It was written by an outstandingly gifted liturgical keyboardist, Jeanne Cotter. As far as I know, this book is quite unique. As you probably know, there is not much out there for freestyle church music.

The name of the book is,

Keyboard Improvisation for the Liturgical Musician

Book One, by Jeanne Cotter. It is the only book I found to cover everything I could possibly want to know.

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Postby Mins Music » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:10 pm

I know this is an old thread, but I haven't been online for such a long time ... so just humour me. :laugh:

If you're going to teach yourself something - anything - you have to not only assume the role of student, but of teacher - goes without saying you'd think. But you have to take a bit of time to really think about what is involved here (and even though I'm a piano teacher I'm certainly not advocating to go to a teacher - I've taught myself how to play other instruments and am happy to continue in this fashion).

What is the role of a teacher? To supply knowledge, motivation, skills - including time management - assessment, feedback and encouragment. I'll discuss these one at a time.

1. KNOWLEDGE: if you really want to learn something well you have to make an investment, sometimes this is just of time and energy, sometimes it is of MONEY. If you cannot beg borrow or download for free, then go out and buy some resources that will really benefit you - not just method books. Suggestions: music term dictionary, theory books and theory papers (the first one will give you information the latter will allow you to practise what you've learned - some come in combinations and even have the answers in the back, or can be bought in a seperate booklet). Buy some books on the subject. Few of my favourite books I've benefited from are : The Larousse Encyclopeadia of Music, published by Hamlynn; Music: An Illustrated History pub. by Hermes House. I've surrounded myself with books on music - and then I've studied them. So make sure you're a curious, studious person (obsession doesn't hurt either!) Beware of method books - some will only teach you to read 'their' songs with their accompaniment style. If you are going to use method books, I really would recommend getting different ones. Get acquainted with your local library - it's quite eye opening the type of resources they have available to the public these days.

2. MOTIVATION: It's there at the beginning and can sustain you for as long as things are going well, but can sometimes vanish if something becomes difficult - (I can really relate to this one!) Immerse yourself in music. Listen to CDs, attend concerts and TALK about your progress or just what you're doing with a friend - it's even better if you have a friend that already knows how or is learning to play an instrument themselves. If you can get together and play with that friend it does wonders to get you back on track. Don't just listen to music that is way beyond your reach. Try and listen to music that is elementary - there's heaps of midis on the net that people have made of themselves playing simple Mozart etc.

3. SKILLS: Allow yourself a bit of time, tell yourself to be patient and MAKE yourself be consistent with the effort you put forth. Once again, don't just rely on method books. Get some REAL music of the masters. There are wonderful compilations of the easiest classical pieces (and I really recommend training yourself in the classics - they give you the basic skills you can then apply to other forms of music) Make sure you have a LOT of very simple music you can use, because you'll want to practise sight reading diligently. If something is too difficult and is frustrating you, try an easier piece - something that is written one hand at a time for instance. There are many sight reading books that help you develop this skill in stages. I really emphasise, get familiar with resources and have a lot of them - not just from one source.

4. ASSESSMENT: This can sometimes be the hardest depending on what type of person we are - sometimes we think we sound great and think, boy I must be at a grade 8 standard by now - sometimes we think - I'm terrible, I'll never be good at this, I should probably just quit. How to get a good balance of your progress? One way is by taping yourself playing, then sit away from the piano and listen to yourself. Follow along with the score, then listen without looking at the score (you're focusing on different senses to take in information). You may be able to detect lapses in rhythm, or incorrect notes. Of course if you have no sense of how the piece is supposed to sound in the first place, you'll find this process more difficult. Let experience and knowledge and confidence build up - but don't disregard this role altogether.

5. FEEDBACK: this is related directly to the above. You can provide this yourself, but it can also be beneficial to play for others whom you trust - especially if they are musical people themselves

6. ENCOURAGEMENT: you won't have a teacher there telling you 'you're doing well, keep it up, I can see and hear a lot of improvement' - so you're going to have to tell youreslf this! I find this one difficult because I'm such a perfectionist and it's a lot easier for me to find fault and then want to condemn. But it leads to discouragment and the feeling of wanting to quit. I have to constantly put myself in the 'teacher' role and say, okay you haven't perfected it yet, but two weeks ago you couldn't do this, now you can so keep going!

You may not become a concert pianist, you MAY develop some awkward techniques and bad habits, but no doubt you really just want to play the piano for enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment - a hobby that doesn't stress you or put you under pressure. There's lots of reasons why people don't want to go to a teacher - not just the money involved.

Of course, I'd probably get lynched if I didn't add, 'there's lots of reasons why you SHOULD go to a teacher'
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby Mins Music » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:11 pm

:O Oh good grief!! I just saw the length of the post - I must have thought I was writing an article! Sorry ... :D
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:45 am

Glad you are posting again so you are forgiven for the long post - it was making up for lost time!

It was also very informative and maybe you whould turn it into an article!
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