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#1080176 - 12/26/08 08:30 AM Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
RoyR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Alexandria, Virginia
All right...I've been practicing on my own now for about 4 months. I'm trying to get a nice, flowing, sound using right hand melody and left hand chords. I can do this sometimes and sometimes I am disappointed with my progress. Last night I made a mess out of several songs I had drilled and drilled myself on. Dang!

So, I am gradually coming around to the notion that maybe a lesson or several will be of help to me. I don't think I can afford a weekly lesson, and perhaps at my age of 58, some simple coaching every other week or once a month will boost me along faster than my rather plodding progress I've made to date.

I welcome any comments on this from those of you who've gone from self-taught to teacher-taught at some point in time. Can a good teacher really be of great help or is it not worth the money? I'm willing to practice and follow directions.

Then, finding a teacher who is good, will work with me in the style I've chosen, and who's affordable, etc etc...I guess those are issues I'll work on once I decide to go the teacher route.

Best to all...hope you had a great Christmas!...


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#1080177 - 12/26/08 10:43 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4534
Try this. With the lt. hand, play the
block, 4-note chords, D F A C, E G B D,
and F A C E. These start on D, E, and
F, respectively, and use every other
white key. In technical terms, these
are seventh chords, the first two minor
and the last one major, but that's
not important, because with just these
three chords, played in no specific order,
you can then improvise all kinds of jazz-like
tunes using just white keys in the
rt. hand. This will show you that
you can improvise and create at the piano
even at an early stage, which should
be a morale boost as you struggle with
the more mundane aspects of learning
the instrument.

#1080178 - 12/26/08 10:49 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
RoyR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Alexandria, Virginia
Thanks, Gyro, but I'm well beyond that point...I have 22 chords "under my hand" as well as a number of chord progressions.

I'm using this thread to try to get at the value of music instruction as it might pertain to me, rather than hints on chord fingerings and other rather specific techniques. I want to get better at "putting it all together." (right and left hands) That's where I'm wondering if instruction will be the most beneficial, since I'm having trouble with that.


#1080179 - 12/26/08 11:04 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
having a good teacher is a good idea. i was like you 3 years ago without a teacher and seeing no progress with my playing. then i decided to get a teacher. i found a teacher from internet search and then contacted him about my current level and what i play, and he email me back and said that he could help me. i played pieces for him at the 1st lesson, and messed up quite a bit, but he saw my playing beyond that and told me that he actually was pleased about my basic techniques. so, we started from there for past 3 years and i'm grateful about how and what he taught me. now that he's gone somewhere, i suddenly realized how much i have learned from him and am able to learn on my own much better now.

the point is a good teacher, whom you may have to search until you find one. don't make any long term commitment with a teacher unless you really like him/her.

#1080180 - 12/26/08 11:28 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
Hi Roy,
I self-taught for the first 6 months, and have used a teacher since then. I'm now at 2 years, 4 months. I definitely started to improve more quickly and steadily after getting the teacher. Some of the benefits come from her input on piece selection, appropriate drills, and emphasis on sight reading. But probably the biggest benefit is simply that I know I need to be ready for my lesson each week, so I always have a practice goal.

Like you, I started in my 50's, though a few years earlier than you, so I can attest to the benefit of a teacher for older beginners.

One difference may be that I'm learning in the classical tradition, with scales, arpeggios, Czerny, and all those overdone early pieces like Fur Elise, and the Bach Little Notebook stuff.

If you're more interested in chord and ear playing you may want to "search" for threads on Piano Magic. I haven't tried it, but many self-teachers on this board have had success with it, and it's cheaper than lessons.

#1080181 - 12/26/08 11:43 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
FormerFF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 476
Loc: Roswell, GA, USA
I did some self teaching on and off over the last few years, and was making very slow progress. I started with a teacher a few weeks ago, and I'm moving along much better now.

I did manage to give myself a case of tendonitis when I was self teaching, probably mostly because I was trying to play with just my fingers. The teacher has corrected my technique and I haven't had a problem so far.

As far as the cost thing goes, you don't have to get a hour a week with a private teacher to benefit. I'm taking 30 minutes a week (on my lunch hour no less) at a local music shop, at a cost of $22 per week. I have a neighbor who works as a production assistant, and his schedule is unpredictable, so he is taking guitar lessons on a casual basis. You may be able to work out something similar with a teacher, if you don't want to do the weekly lesson.
Piano self teaching on and off from 2002-2008. Took piano instruction from Nov 2008- Feb 2011. Took guitar instruction Feb 2011-Jul 2013. Can't play either. Living, breathing proof some people aren't cut out to make music.

#1080182 - 12/26/08 12:43 PM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10861
Loc: Georgia, USA
Interesting thread... here’s a little background on myself: I started playing the guitar at a very early age, maybe around 6 years old. I never really had any formal lessons per-se, except for a few relatives who played the guitar a little. I actually progressed fairly well to be so young and at school I was involved in the available music programs. When the music teachers realized I could play the guitar a little they capitalized on that and let me either play along with the piano or participated in the music/coral programs in some way.

At one point (in the 6th grade), I was actually helping the music teacher teach a class on learning to play the guitar. There I was at the tender age of 11 attempting to teach a class full of 11 to 12 year olds how the play a few cords on the guitar. (Talk about the blind leading the blind \:\) .) Anyway, to make a long story short, I have been involved in some kind of music making venture most all of my life. Unfortunately, although I did learn the music charts and clefts (Treble cleft lines = EGBDF, spaces = FACE; bass cleft lines = GBDFA, spaces = ACEG) I was too busy helping the music teacher with their tasks to really focus on learning a lot myself. Of course, there is a Scripture in the Bible where the Apostle Paul says “thou that teachest another, teachest not thyself also”? \:\) So, I did learn something along the way; yet, to this day I do not read music in the traditional manner because I have never focused on that particular skill.

Anyway, as I got older I learned to play a couple of more instruments (by ear and self-taught). When I was in high school, I was recruited to enroll in an all girls chorus because I could play the electric bass guitar. The music teacher wanted me to accompany her on the piano. So, I was the only male in an all female music class. For some reason I really liked that experience; surrounded by young beautiful (for the most part) women \:D . Still, I was required to produce more so than learn myself. However, I did learn a lot about music in general. I could accompany/play along with any song or arrangement on the bass guitar in a short period of time. All I needed to know was the initial key the piece was written in and to hear it one time.

I have played in a couple of music groups (the bass guitar mostly). However, in my latter days on earth, I have fallen in love with the piano. I wish I had focused on playing the piano many years ago and been ahead of the learning curve. Now, I am bound to time limitations and other major obstacles I have to contend with on a daily basis. For example, my wife of 32 years is totally disabled due to a brain tumor and I am her primary care provider, plus I work full time and am working on a Masters degree online. Yet, I do treasure the time I get to spend at my piano, even without a teacher.

Okay, I didn’t mean to get into a long autobiography here. The moral of my story is that having a teacher or at least a mentor to assist and aid in the speeding up the learning curve is a good thing. In the past, I have picked up a few things here and there just by watching someone else play the piano. If you have the luxury of being able to afford a formal teacher and the time to spend, by all means, go with the teacher.

Take care,

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#1080183 - 12/26/08 10:26 PM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
Vince in Vegas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/07
Posts: 169
Loc: Las Vegas
Good bio Rickster. I've read tons of your posts and this was easily the most informative and interesting. Im fascinated how/why some learn to create/play and others don't. Without exception those accomplished players that I know have a similar story: they "got it" on a simple level (that is they could mimic what they heard and enjoyed) early and then built upon that early success by using those basic, musical skills. NONE of my friends who play well read music with much skill but they can hear and repeat the music they hear with ease. OK they are not repeating Bach or Behthoven but they don't really enjoy that. What they do enjoy is popular rock, R&B and jazz. I have studdied with classical teachers for years without much success at all. At this point I wish I had had the inclination, courage or whatever to simply sit down at the piano as a kid and start putting things together. I took the "tried and true" method and after years of lessons and decades of practice I have little to show for the effort. Kind of that "terminal intermidiate state" Gyro has written about. A teacher is certainly a good thing but there is something mighty powerful in teaching yourself. Maybe a mixture of a good teacher with lots of self guided study might be just the ticket. Good story, Thanks Rick.

#1080184 - 12/26/08 11:29 PM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10861
Loc: Georgia, USA
First of all, RoyR, I didn’t mean to hijack your thread; I just thought I’d interject my experiences and thoughts on having a music teacher.

And, secondly, thanks for the kind words, Vince. I enjoyed reading your comments as well. By the way, I’m still jealous of that great deal you got on your 7 foot grand piano \:D .

Take care, and keep up the learning process. We never fully complete the learning curve; we just make a little progress and enjoy it along the way.

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#1080185 - 12/27/08 07:39 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
RoyR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Alexandria, Virginia
Thank you all, and no, Rick, I didn't consider my thread hijacked!

It sounds like a teacher would certainly be worthwhile. Now finding one is the trick!

I live in the Alexandria (northern Virginia) area, about 15 miles south of the District of Columbia. Is there anyone out there in cyber piano-land who has experience with local teachers? I know how to run through the usual search methods of internet, local music strores, etc etc....but NOTHING beats your personal endorsement, particularly if we can chat a bit off-line about the teacher and his/her method, style, and such. Post here or drop me a private message if you have any advice or recommendations to share. I don't have any piano-playing friends yet, so finding personal recommendations is tricky.

Also, perhaps there are piano/keyboard clubs around that I could join? Then I'd have plenty of local people who could offer advice. Any suggestions in that regard?

Many thanks...


#1080186 - 12/27/08 12:37 PM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
gooddog Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5439
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Get a teacher by all means. I took a hiatus from lessons for 35 years because of kids and other responsibilities. I continued to play and learn on my own but my technique improved very slowly. 4 years ago I found a wonderful teacher who teaches a lot of adults. Everything has improved tremendously, making me very happy.

My lessons are every other week because I work full time and don't always have the time to adequately prepare my music in just one week. Every other week also makes it more affordable. Go for it.
Best regards,


#1080187 - 12/27/08 02:03 PM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Over two years on my own and just over two years with a teacher. A teacher can help a great deal. I would suggest a lesson every other week, maybe even every third week. I like a 45 minute lesson.

Ask everyone you know, that is how I found my second teacher. My first teacher was a total waste of time. I would suggest you try your local community college as they most likely have a piano program and the teachers are most like adjunct and they will most likely take on a new student on their own time. Call all your local churches as well and ask if their organist teaches piano, many do. It takes time to find a good teacher and you might have to kiss a few frogs before you find one you really like.
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".


#1080188 - 12/28/08 01:54 AM Re: Maybe a lesson WOULD help...
crusadar Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/07
Posts: 670
Loc: Middle England
When it comes to finding a piano teacher, or teacher of any other subject, it has to be born in mind that a master of the subject may not mean that person is a good teacher of the subject, being able to teach and inspire a pupil to self progress is a skill in it's own right. The worst kind of teacher are those who constantly try to show the pupil how they excel in their subject, a kind of boasting, which has the effect of making the pupil feel inadequate and deflates aspirations, I guess those kind of teachers wonder why their pupils move on or give up. Just my thoughts as I muse over the possibility of engaging a piano teacher myself, plus, over a period of 7 years in my childhood I had three different piano teachers, so I have some first hand experience....all I can say is, I learned very little from those "teachers" then.


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