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#1063361 - 11/19/08 01:42 PM thinking about starting.  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
delly Offline
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delly  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
Southern Ontario
After watching my daughter take lessons and enjoying what she has learnt makes me realize that it takes time and effort. Now she has moved away and the piano sits silent I am thinking about starting lessons myself. Can anyone give me some advice where to start? I don't really want to take private lessons. All I want to do is be able to sit down and play for myself. Does anybody have any ideas for me. New on this forum

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#1063362 - 11/19/08 02:01 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Nov 2007
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epf Offline
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Central Texas
delly, welcome to the forum! A large number of the people who frequent this forum are self taught. There are several different books that can help you. Many here swear by the Alfred series (and there are even long threads dedicated to each of the three volumes in this series).

I'm sure others will chime in with their favorites. Good luck and enjoy your quest to play the piano!


"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria
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#1063363 - 11/19/08 02:06 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
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verania5 Offline
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Why don't you want private lessons? If you really are interested, I strongly encourage you to get some instruction. This skill really benefits from direct instruction. I think it would spare you a lot of frustration and having to work out bad habits if you learned the right way from the beginning.

Steinway M & Yamaha P120
#1063364 - 11/19/08 03:22 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,534
Gyro Offline
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Gyro  Offline
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It is possible to learn on your own. There
are various adult course book sets, usually
in three volumes, which will take you
from absolute beginner to about intermediate
level. There are also lessons on CD, and
many free piano lessons on YouTube
and on other websites on the internet,
and tons of free sheet music online,
and you could check out books at the
library. So in theory you might not even
have to buy anything. Basically, all
you need is a chart showing which piano
key corresponds to what note on the
staffs, and some basic information on
counting and musical notation, and you
could then play anything ever written
by going at it note by note. And you
might not even have to learn anything
about reading notes, if you can figure out how
to "play by ear," so to speak.

Here's a summary of how to play the
piano. Take a look at your piano keyboard.
This is the 88-key keyboard that
is standard today on most pianos.
It has 36 black keys and 52 white ones.
But note that there is a definite pattern
among all those keys: the black ones
are in a repetitive sequence of groups
of 2 and 3 keys all along the keyboard.
There are seven complete sets of those
2 and 3 black key groupings on an 88-key

Those 2 and 3 black key groups mark
groups of seven white keys that are in a
specific sequence: there are seven
white keys surrounding each group of
2 and 3 black keys, the first one to
the immediate left of the lt. key of
the black key in a group of 2 blk.
keys and the seventh one to the immediate
right of the rt. key in a group of 3
blk. keys. That first white key is
called "C" and that seventh white key
is called "B." The white keys between
the first and seventh white keys are
named in accordance with the alphabet,
that is, "D E F G A," respectively, going
to the right on the keyboard (that is,
"up" the keyboard).

If you play those seven white keys,
C D E F G A B, with your finger, you'll
get that familiar "scale" type of sound,
"do re mi fa so la ti," that you've
heard all your life. Note that each
of the seven groups of 2 and 3 blk.
keys on the keyboard mark a set of
seven white keys, C D E F G A B.
If you go to the 2 and 3 blk. key
group at the far lt. of the keyboard
and play the seven white keys surrounding
them, you'll get the notes C D E F G A B.
If you go to the next 2 and 3 blk. key
group up the keyboard and play the
seven white keys surrounding them,
you'll get those same notes C D E F G A B,
but at a higher pitch. And so forth up
the keyboard.

Near the center of the keyboard there is
usually some kind of mark showing the
company that made the piano. In any case,
the C that is nearest the center of
the keyboard is referred to as "middle" C.
Middle C is important as a reference
when reading sheet music. Sheet music
is written on two staffs or clefs, groups of
5 horizontal lines. The upper one, the
treble, is marked with the treble clef
sign, which looks like a cat with a tail.
The lower one, the bass, is marked with
the bass clef sign, which looks like
and ear with two dots to the right of it.
Middle C is written as a note with a short
horizontal line through it, either below the
treble clef or above the bass clef.
The other notes D E F G A B are written
on successive spaces and lines on the
staffs. Note that there are only
seven different notes that
can ever be directly written
on sht. music, C D E F G A B--all
white keys. (The black keys are not
directly notated on sht. music but
are indirectly indicated by "sharp"
and "flat" signs.) The keyboard
has 88 keys, and when you look at
sht. music, it might appear to be a tangled
messof Martian hieroglyphics, but there
are only seven different notes ever
written on sht. music, C D E F G A B.

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#1063365 - 11/19/08 04:17 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 210
Ivory Dreams Offline
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Ivory Dreams  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 210
Central NC
Hi Delly. Welcome to the forum.

As an adult beginner myself. Let me offer you some money saving advice....

Be careful of folks that tell you that you can teach yourself to play the piano. Too many of those folks have something great to sell you.

There are some people who can teach themselves to play. But even more that cannot. I could not.

I learned my lesson on self teaching, the hard way. Save yourself some time and money. Get a teacher.

A truly motivated adult learns much quicker than a child. You can be playing music that sounds good in only a few months.

A teacher can help you get the basics down, so that you can understand what it is that you are teaching yourself. If you are as motivated to play as I was you can take lessons for 6 months and then be qualified to make the decision as to whether you need to continue with a teacher or proceed on your own.

Have a conversation with your prospective teachers, tell them you want to play for yourself and the type of music that interests you.

You might need to talk to more than one instructor, but if you find someone that understands what your goals are.... You will save yourself a lot of money and will be playing piano the way you want to play, in a lot less time.

[Linked Image]

You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.
#1063366 - 11/19/08 04:51 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 200
Kawai, HI Offline
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Kawai, HI  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 200
Welcome! How about group lessons? It's fun with less pressure.

Semper ubi sub ubi
[Linked Image]
#1063367 - 11/19/08 06:56 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,101
ll Offline
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ll  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,101
An alternative, and similar to group lessons but usually much cheaper:

Take a Piano 101 (or whatever it's called) at a local community college. I got 2.5 hour lessons for 16 weeks for only $20, plus another $10 for the book. I learned all the basics and more. Sure, you don't get to learn at an incredibly quick pace, but you learn enough at a good pace and then are given the tools to go onto Piano 102, where you learn all the better tools such as all scales and more advanced pieces. That's another $20. Follow that with 103 and 104 and you are playing some easy classical pieces, usually according to the syllabus.

Also, most teachers are very nice. Mine was--she was stay behind and answer whatever questions I had, even if it did not relate to class! These people usually have Master's or PhD/DMA even, so they are more than willing to even perform and show you how to play better.

If only I continued sooner smile

II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.
#1063368 - 11/19/08 07:28 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 201
Gary001 Offline
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Gary001  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 201
If you don't want a teacher for whatever reason and you're an absolute beginner, then check out the thread on the Alfred's and Faber beginner books.

I've been using both the Faber book (Adult Piano Adventures) as well as the Piano Handbook as my main material for learning to play. Almost finished the Faber book now and will probably buy the 2nd one in the series and continue with it.

I've not looked at the Alfred books, but there are a lot of people on this forum that use that series too. Either is probably a great starting point for a complete beginner.

[Linked Image] XIX, XIV, XII, XI
#1063369 - 11/19/08 10:47 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 258
Debbie57 Offline
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Debbie57  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 258
Welcome delly,

Are your daughter's music books still in the house with the piano and did she start in a very beginning book?? That could be simple way to get your feet wet seeing if self teaching is a doable path for you. For myself, I need a teacher even though I had several years of lessons as a child. 40 years later, it wasn't like riding a bike. I wasn't able to just play again. The feedback and assistance of my teacher is a huge plus for the way I learn.

A Hero is one who hangs on one minute longer. Author: Unknown
#1063370 - 11/20/08 01:39 AM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,193
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,193
Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome, delly! All that's necessary is a desire to play. There are lots of different roads to pianos. smile

Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
#1063371 - 11/20/08 10:23 AM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 794
Donna R. Offline
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Donna R.  Offline
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Posts: 794
Delly, I'm mostly self-taught, and while I agree with much of what Ivory Dreams has to say I also know how hard it is to find a good teacher (most teachers are focused on teaching children, an entirely different ball game than teaching adults). I'd recommend starting with a method like Alfred's Adult All-in-One or Faber's Adult Piano Adventures. There are threads dedicated to both series on this forum, and they both have a lot of supplementary material that gives you more music to play at each level. There are many courses on the web that promise they'll teach you to play piano in a month, or whatever, but the truth is that learning to play is a long journey that can be tremendously enjoyable if you decide to enjoy all the stops along the way, but very frustrating if you're expecting astonishing results within a short time. (There are also some good offerings on the web, but you have to be very picky.)

EDIT: And I forgot to say, don't think about it, if you're sure this is something you want to do, just start. I thought about it for years before I finally stopped dreaming and started doing. I wish I'd got my act together long before I did.

#1063372 - 11/20/08 11:10 AM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Kymber Offline
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Kymber  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
Welcome Delly smile
Some music schools offer group lessons for adults. That might be fun to try. Then you can learn some of the basics if you decide to go on to teach yourself. .

“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1063373 - 11/20/08 12:10 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
signa Offline
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signa  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
Ohio, USA
check out some piano instructions on youtube. some good ones will show you the way well.

#1063374 - 11/21/08 04:15 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 106
derekp Offline
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derekp  Offline
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Posts: 106
Chicago Area
One word of advice on the Alfred series. The Alfred Adult course comes in different flavors. I picked up one of the books from the Alfred Adult Basic course, then found out there is a separate "All in One" course set which includes theory (the Basic course has separate theory books).

The Faber "Piano Adventures" course comes in multiple flavors -- make sure you get the "Adult Piano Adventures" books instead of the regular ones. Faber also has some nice supplemental music books that have tunes that you know but aren't kids nursery rimes, broken down by level (I picked up "Chord Time Popular level 2b"). For each level, they have several books, such as Popular, Christmas, Hymns, etc.

Another course of action to consider is to use a computer-based method, where the computer software will guide you through lessons and evaluate your playing. I started off with "The Miracle Piano Teaching System", although that one is no longer available -- but it can be had for fairly cheap off of ebay.

#1063375 - 11/21/08 08:21 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 215
quiescen Offline
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quiescen  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 215
San Diego
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Welcome, delly! All that's necessary is a desire to play. There are lots of different roads to pianos. smile
Monica nailed it. All you need is desire and a willingness to stick to it. Perserverance is important as well.

Play New Age Piano

Edward Weiss
Quiescence Music
#1063376 - 11/21/08 08:57 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 72
SPOFF Offline
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SPOFF  Offline
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Posts: 72
Derry NH
I might add that it is quite a bit easier to make progress on your own in the Internet age. The knowledge and community here is invaluable and a search here will bring up the URLs of an amazing number of piano and music theory instruction Websites.

I tried to teach myself as a child, later as a young adult, and never made it far. I figured out scales in all the keys by ear as a grade schooler. I shook my head at attempts to use my left hand as a young adult. But I never grasped chords and music theory until YouTube appeared. Finally, at age 50, I'm taking a serious stab at it. And while progress is slow, I'm delighted with the progress I'm making. The other odd thing is it seems easier everytime I sit at the keyboard. My fingers just get smarter.

But my goals are modest. I'm playing pop and popular music. The arrangments I'm learning are still simple. I'm concentrating on hand independence and timing. And I carefully pick scores based on what I need to learn next. So it's basic Beatles arrangements today, Billy Joel in 6 months, Stevie Wonder in 2 years and Elton John in 5 years. smile

Still, I wouldn't advise against finding a teacher. As usual there's a lot of great advice here on different ways to get instruction.

#1063377 - 12/02/08 11:06 PM Re: thinking about starting.  
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
Mr.T Offline
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Mr.T  Offline
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Posts: 8
Newcastle, Australia
Hey mate. If you haven't learned another instrument in the past with a teacher, I'd strongly recommend you get one, even if only to get the basics down pat. You're more likely to get results quicker with a teacher, and results = satisfaction.

Can be done without a teacher, just will take longer. A good teacher, that is. It's definitely worth your while to try several teachers and find the one that works best for you.

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