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Old 30 March 2013, 07:23 PM
Mickey Blue's Avatar
Mickey Blue Mickey Blue is offline
Join Date: 01 February 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 17,571
Default I need tips on learning to play piano

So my wife got a piano (an actual one) free from a friend of hers, crazy no? Now she can play fairly well (she's a bit rusty I guess but good) and I was thinking I'd give it a shot.

So I don't play any instruments and was looking for some general tips.

Unfortunately, getting actual lessons isn't super realistic as I'm working two jobs and going to school full time (fun no?) not to mention run of the mill 'life obligations'.

My wife is good at giving me information but I was curious about other tips, tricks particularly if anybody out there remembers (or is) learning rather than from somebody who is already very good.

So a few general questions I have;

1) Should I learn to read sheet music before I start playing? If so how 'fluent' should I become?

2) Does it make sense to learn one hand and then the other or learn both at once?
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Old 30 March 2013, 08:28 PM
Nana M Nana M is offline
Join Date: 28 December 2006
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 645

I would start with something fairly easy, such as one of the Suzuki 'learn to play' books (my GD uses one, she's learning to play the harp). You can also get a strip to lay over the back of the keys that gives you the letter designations from middle C. Some of the Suzuki books have simple melodies in them, so you can start making music immediately, a lot more fun than starting with scales, believe me.
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Old 12 April 2013, 06:44 PM
dewey dewey is offline
Join Date: 12 October 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,789

I personally feel that you should learn to read music. In the long run that will make everything much easier. Think of it this way. What if you did not know how to read and had to learn everything you know by memorizing it.

Having said this, it will be difficult and frustrating. The advantage of having a teacher is that the teacher could should you some simple songs to play to keep up your interest while learning how to read music.

From my own personal experience, I took guitar lessons and piano lessons but taught myself to play trombone and I am much worse on trombone than on guitar or piano.

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Old 12 April 2013, 07:42 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 21,451

I would say you need to learn notation along with playing - the notation does not make sense if you do not hear the notes in your head as you see them, and that comes from playing them in context many many times.
There are good programs like Suzuki and others - and I'll bet you can find some online as well with realtime coaching (maybe just playalong) - that will help you to move along.

The exercises are important, like partial and whole scales repeated, etc., but they get to be a drag if you do not play some simple tunes that make it fun. "The Old Gray Mare' can be a thrill when you realize you are making some progress.

Both hands, as directed by the program you choose.

Move as fast as you can with new tunes, even if you are not perfect on some of the older ones, so that you keep your interest up. You'll feel like you are making progress. Keep repeating the old ones as you move forward - er, within reason, and depending on your proficiency at any given time. The comfortable old tunes reinforce good form, and challenges teach you new skills and keep you interested.
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Old 12 April 2013, 08:32 PM
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musicgeek musicgeek is offline
Join Date: 01 August 2005
Location: Fairfield, CT
Posts: 5,739

What are your ultimate goals?

If you want to be able to play classical music, yes, you probably need a more formal approach. This would include reading music, learning correct fingerings for scales, and in all likelihood tackling a graduated instruction series of some sort, even if self-taught.

If you want to bang around on some pop/rock/jazz for fun, you can get by with more of a functional keyboard harmony approach. This would include reading music, learning enough music theory to develop a chord vocabulary and functional left-hand skills, and finding some simple tunes you want to play.

It's going to be work either way, and yes, I'd definitely recommend learning to read notes. (Many beginning books teach note reading as part of the basic piano instruction. Although they're dated and aimed at kids, there's nothing wrong with breaking out something like the John Thompson piano course books to give you your first bit of musical grounding at the keyboard.)
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