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#2118561 - 07/16/13 01:38 PM Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help  
Joined: Sep 2006
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Shey Offline
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I've been away from piano for about 6 years! I was an older late starter and was determined to play piano. I had two years of wwekly lessons with a teacher, but felt I wasn't learning enough, using children's books. I loved this forum and recognised various people's names and followed the progress of others.
I don't know what happened, I just stopped! My piano lid stayed closed for years. Then last month, I found my interest again. I realise now that my teacher was teaching me to read music and follow a classical path. I can see how much I learned and remembered and have been able to revise very quickly to where I left off.
I am now using the Alfred's All in One, self teaching until I find the right teacher for me and have been trying to read the hundreds of posts regarding the Alfred's thread. I have seen it go through years and everyone seems to have moved on with their learning.
I am trying not to regret where I would be if I had carried on, and am in a positive mood.
Just now I am trying to understand the connection with key signatures and scales, it's just not sinking in why G Major key has F sharp for instance. I will be getting a scales book, but will be practising not knowing why.
I hope someone will be able to help me understand, I have read alsorts on the internet, but I'm just not getting it.
Thanks for help in anticipation, it's so good to be back.


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#2118565 - 07/16/13 01:51 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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casinitaly Offline

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Hi Shey,
welcome back!

Your plan of not dwelling on where you would be had you not stopped is a good one - just focus on the here and now and see how it goes.

As for the question about why Gmajor has an F sharp.... The notes of a major scale go up in specific increments.

Often they are called tones and semi-tones - or whole steps and half steps. I think tone and semitone is easier to say.

T G to A = 1 full tone (G -to g sharp to A)
T A to B = 1 full tone (A to A sharp to B)
S B to C= 1 semi tone - no black key!
T C to D = 1 full tone ( C to C sharp to D)
T D to E = 1 full tone (D to D sharp to E)
T E to F# = 1 full tone - (E to F to F sharp)
S F# to G = 1 semi-tone (F# to G)

and so on.

If you start on C and repeat the same pattern of TTSTTTS you will see you end up with no sharps - if you start on D you'll end up with 2 sharps.

It is all very cool.
Most basic books on theory will start off explaining this and then go on to discuss the notes in the scale that make up chords.

I hope that was helpful.



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#2118569 - 07/16/13 01:58 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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welcome back laugh


"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"The joy is in the practicing. It's like relationships. Yeah, orgasms are awesome, but you can't make love to someone who you have no relationship with!"
#2118571 - 07/16/13 02:04 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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Major scales are marked by a certain sound, and a certain sequence of whole and half steps between the notes.

Let's start with sound. The C major scale starts on C and includes all the white notes on the piano. Play an octave of the C major scale, up and down from C to C, with just one hand. You don't need to use any particular fingering; you can use just one finger if you like, or anything, for this listening practice. Listen to the sound. Listen in particular to the sound of the last three notes: A B C. Listen to them descending also: C B A.

Now try a scale starting on G. First play just white notes, one octave, up and down, with just one hand. Listen to the sound. Can you hear that it sounds wrong at the top? (If you can't hear it, just trust that some people can hear this, and carry on with the following steps.). Now play a scale starting on G, with all white keys except for one exception: instead of F natural play F sharp. Can you hear that this sounds the same as C major now, just higher (or lower, if you started on a lower G)? Play the last three notes, up and down: E F# G, G F# E. Can you hear that this is the same sound -- the same miniature tune -- as the last three notes in the C major scale: A B C, C B A? Compare to the sound of the G scale version with F natural: E F G, G F E. Can you hear that this sounds different?

If you can hear the versions that sound different and the versions that sound the same, then you have discovered aurally that a G major scale has F#, not F natural. I should mention here that all major scales sound the same, except they start on different pitches. This is the aural definition of being the same kind of scale: they sound the same except for starting on different pitches.

OK, that's the aural side. But we sort of had to do trial and error to figure out that it should be F# instead of F natural. In my next post I'll give a method involving checking the distance between notes to find a major scale immediately without having to do aural trial and error. (If you're strong in aural skills, the aural method may get you a lot farther than it can get me, but knowing about the distances between notes will come in handy in lots of places, not just major scales, so it's worth learning.)


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#2118578 - 07/16/13 02:13 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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That was cross posted: I see that casinitaly has already given the method I had in mind, of whole steps and half steps. In contrast to casinitaly, I find whole step and half step easier to work with than tone and semitone, so for me the major scale interval pattern is WWHWWWH. Shey, I see that you're in England: do you use tone/semitone or whole step/half step?

As you're working out examples of scales using the tone/semitone interval pattern, listen also to the results. Does it sound right? It's useful to be able to recognize the sound of a major scale.


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#2118579 - 07/16/13 02:14 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: casinitaly]  
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Shey Offline
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casinitaly, thank you, I have a feeling I did learn that. The tone semi tone thing. I need to check my old books, things getting a little clearer. I can hear the difference when sharps need to be added to a scale, just totally forgot about the tone part. Thanks for prompt reply. So excited at getting it all together and re learning.


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#2118585 - 07/16/13 02:28 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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PianoStudent88, yes I use tone and semi tone, only just remembered with casinitaly's help. Thanks for the detailed post, very helpful, I seem to need a lot of nudging to bring my old learning back. I do have good aural skill, and can hear the difference in the f and f sharp and know when things sound wrong when playing scales. I need to study the interval patterns, listen to major scales to recognise the right sound. I thank you again for your prompt reply and already my confidence is returning. Being able to ask questions which are just eluding me without feeling stupid is wonderful.

Sweet06, I appreciate the welcome back

Last edited by Shey; 07/16/13 02:29 PM.

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#2118627 - 07/16/13 04:36 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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Hi Shey,

Good to hear from you again. smile I hope you are able to find a teacher who is a good fit for you. I think that's critical for adult beginners. thumb


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#2118629 - 07/16/13 04:41 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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Originally Posted by Shey
I've been away from piano for about 6 years! I was an older late starter and was determined to play piano. I had two years of wwekly lessons with a teacher, but felt I wasn't learning enough, using children's books.


Everyone thinks they are not learning enough. Maybe the choice of music could have been a little more adult oriented but you were doing the right thing with weekly lessons.



Quote
I am now using the Alfred's All in One, self teaching until I find the right teacher for me


I hope you find that "right teacher" soon.

Generally speaking, getting help from a teacher is your quickest path to becoming a skilled player. Don't let promises of "quick" methods sway you. This forum is full of examples of players spending years on quick methods and ending up making very little progress or quitting in frustration.



Don

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#2118637 - 07/16/13 04:50 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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Originally Posted by Shey
I had two years of wwekly lessons with a teacher, but felt I wasn't learning enough, using children's books. I don't know what happened, I just stopped!


Are you sure you weren't learning enough specifically because of children's books? Their only difference to adult books is the pacing; adult books are paced faster and arguably more difficult to traverse alone while because children's books are slower, they have a lesser tendency to leave holes of any kind. Obviously one use of a teacher is to fill any gaps left by the method books, if you use or follow one at all. I ask the question because the lack of progress (be it perceived or real) very well may be attributed to a lack of an efficient practice routine and not the music you were using - the former allows for learning of the latter. Whether or not a teacher can help provide such a routine is an important question to ask/consider in selecting one to study under.


Originally Posted by Shey
I am trying not to regret where I would be if I had carried on, and am in a positive mood.


This is good. Don't regret the past, learn from it.


"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."
#2118661 - 07/16/13 05:43 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Bobpickle]  
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Shey Offline
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I have just been practising some chords and revising note values, I feel I am remembering all sorts of bits of theory. Bob, yes I am wary of the "learn piano in two months" ideas, and would never go down that route, I want to have the proper grounding and training to be able to play piano well. I think I felt let down by my original teacher, playing only bits of children's music, although now I know I learnt a lot, and am not sure how to find someone who suits my needs just now, so I am practising in short spurts, and really enjoying myself. Setting small goals for each day and yet pushing myself to make progress.
Can anyone please recommend a tutor book for scale practice that explains in detail the relationship to major, minor and key signatures, I'm now thinking this might be relevant to the circle of 5ths, of which I know nothing about! Thanks again for your replies and welcome posts.

Last edited by Shey; 07/16/13 05:46 PM.

Alfreds All In One Level 1 graduate and various other tutor sources
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Fundamental Keys
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#2118740 - 07/16/13 08:18 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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i don't really understand the circle of fifths, i'm looking forward to a good response to that. my current understanding (please don't take this as the "answer", its not, but it could be haha!) is that with your 1 and 5 you create a 5th assuming standard hand positiions so theres different combinations you can hit and just go up and down the keyboard. im sure im terribly wrong, it seems any explanation i see on the net is just a big picture with notes and stuff in a circle.


"Doesn't practicing on the piano suck?!?!"
"The joy is in the practicing. It's like relationships. Yeah, orgasms are awesome, but you can't make love to someone who you have no relationship with!"
#2118743 - 07/16/13 08:31 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Sweet06]  
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Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted by Sweet06
i don't really understand the circle of fifths, i'm looking forward to a good response to that. my current understanding (please don't take this as the "answer", its not, but it could be haha!) is that with your 1 and 5 you create a 5th assuming standard hand positiions so theres different combinations you can hit and just go up and down the keyboard. im sure im terribly wrong, it seems any explanation i see on the net is just a big picture with notes and stuff in a circle.

What is it you don't understand about the diagram? I can't make head or tail of your post, by the way.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118752 - 07/16/13 08:47 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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R0B Offline
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Sweet06,
The Circle of Fifths, helps to explain the relationships between Key Signatures.

For example, if you have already learned the formula for constructing a major scale, as has been posted above, (T,T,S,T,T,T,S) and play the C major scale, you will see that it contains no sharps or flats.

Now play the 5th note of the C scale (G), and construct a G major scale, using the formula. You will see that it contains one sharp (F#)which is the key signature of G major.

Next, play the 5th note of the G major scale (D) and construct the D major scale. It will contain 2 sharps, (F# and C#) This is the key signature of D major.

Carry on in this manner, until you have found all of the sharp key signatures.

By moving in the opposite direction, e.g. play 5 notes down the keyboard from C, and you will hit F. Constructing an F major scale, you will find it contains one flat (Bb)

Playing 5 notes downwards from F, brings you to Bb. The Bb scale will contain 2 flats (Bb and Eb) and so on.

There is more to the Circle of Fifths than I have outlined so far, for example, working out key signatures for the relative minor keys, but it should get you started in understanding how it works.

Good luck.


Rob
#2118754 - 07/16/13 08:55 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: R0B]  
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Originally Posted by R0B
Carry on in this manner, until you have found all of the sharp key signatures.

By moving in the opposite direction, e.g. play 5 notes down the keyboard from C, and you will hit F.

This is the part of your explanation that I object to. The reason it's called the circle of fifths is because it is a cycle of keys which never ends. Don't think about it in terms of sharp keys, then flat keys. After you get to the bottom of the circle from the sharp side, continue back around with decreasing numbers of flats until reaching C again, and so on. Or you could go backwards, which would look like this: C - F - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb/F# - B - E - A - D - G - C, etc.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118757 - 07/16/13 09:01 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Sweet06]  
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Quote
i don't really understand the circle of fifths, i'm looking forward to a good response to that

Sweet06 I hope this won't confuse you further:

If you start at C(no sharps)and count up a perfect 5th you'll end up at G which has one sharp (the F). Count up another perfect 5th and you'll be at D which has two sharps(F and C). Count again up a perfect 5th and your at A which has three sharps (F,C and G) etc, etc. As you can see you will add a sharp each time you go to the next perfect fifth. Look at the following link to this web page and see if you understand what I am saying. HTH grin
Circle of Fifths


Last edited by Ragdoll; 07/16/13 09:08 PM.

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#2118760 - 07/16/13 09:03 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Ragdoll]  
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Originally Posted by Ragdoll
Quote
i don't really understand the circle of fifths, i'm looking forward to a good response to that

Sweet06 I hope this won't confuse you further:

If you start at C(no sharps/flats)and count up a perfect 5th you'll end up at G which has one sharp (the F). Count up another perfect 5th and you'll be at D which has two sharps(F and C). Count

I have a feeling this explanation is incomplete. grin


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118762 - 07/16/13 09:09 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Just couldn't resist while I edited huh? bah


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#2118769 - 07/16/13 09:16 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist


This is the part of your explanation that I object to. The reason it's called the circle of fifths is because it is a cycle of keys which never ends. Don't think about it in terms of sharp keys, then flat keys. After you get to the bottom of the circle from the sharp side, continue back around with decreasing numbers of flats until reaching C again, and so on. Or you could go backwards, which would look like this: C - F - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb/F# - B - E - A - D - G - C, etc.


You are of course, correct smile

I was merely trying to simplify the explanation, by starting with one sharp, and then one flat, key signature.


Rob
#2118770 - 07/16/13 09:17 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: R0B]  
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Originally Posted by R0B
Originally Posted by Polyphonist


This is the part of your explanation that I object to. The reason it's called the circle of fifths is because it is a cycle of keys which never ends. Don't think about it in terms of sharp keys, then flat keys. After you get to the bottom of the circle from the sharp side, continue back around with decreasing numbers of flats until reaching C again, and so on. Or you could go backwards, which would look like this: C - F - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb/F# - B - E - A - D - G - C, etc.


You are of course, correct smile

I was merely trying to simplify the explanation, by starting with one sharp, and then one flat, key signature.

Yes, but I think it went a little too far beyond simplification - you were missing one of the crucial concepts. smile


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118775 - 07/16/13 09:24 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Yep, I suppose it was really just a semi-circle of fifths grin


Rob
#2118776 - 07/16/13 09:25 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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Polyphonist, since you are a senior pianist and I understand you also teach, could you present the concept of the circle of fifths under the present conditions? That is: assuming that the persons you are addressing may be brand new to theory, so you want to present the concept in a way that they can understand, and also in a useful way. Of course they won't know what that useful way is, so you have to guide them every step of the way.

I am serious by the way, and would love to see your post teaching this. smile

#2118789 - 07/16/13 09:48 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Polyphonist, since you are a senior pianist and I understand you also teach, could you present the concept of the circle of fifths under the present conditions? That is: assuming that the persons you are addressing may be brand new to theory, so you want to present the concept in a way that they can understand, and also in a useful way. Of course they won't know what that useful way is, so you have to guide them every step of the way.

I am serious by the way, and would love to see your post teaching this. smile

I believe in a practical approach, so the first thing I'd do would be to show the student on the keyboard how scales work. Then I'd get into the progression of fifths, and explain why one sharp is added or one flat is dropped every time you move a perfect fifth up. I'd also point out that the new sharp is always the seventh degree of the scale, and the new flat is always the fourth degree. I wouldn't expect the student to understand right away why this is true, just to observe and remember it. Then I'd get into enharmonic keys, and explain why F# and Gb major are the same thing, and why you very rarely have sharps in Gb or flats in F#, but double accidentals are quite common. By this time I'd expect the student to be able to work out the circle of fifths on their own (most likely not perfectly). To someone reading this explanation, it probably sounds ridiculous, like I'm not going logically from Point A to Point B, and the student couldn't possibly be expected to understand all this. However, the actual situation of explanation in front of the piano would be very different from reading this overview - I'm not going to take out the trouble to write out all the dialogue that would be happening between me and the student during the lesson (the circle of fifths would probably take half an hour to explain to the typical student), I'm just recording the main concepts that would be taught and the conclusions that would be drawn. Interspersed with this it might be necessary to go over background material such as the order of sharps/flats or other basic concepts.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118794 - 07/16/13 09:58 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist

I believe in a practical approach, ......


Basically I agree with you. I like the idea of music theory growing out of experience in music and presented gradually. To start with, concepts like circle of fifths, or anything else, involve sound and relationships of sound, and they are also embedded in music.

The reality here, however, is that there are in fact people trying to learn and who don't (maybe can't) have teachers. So what is to be done here, other than finding error in explanations often offered by other fellow students trying to help? Personally I would give an overview, but encourage exploration and maybe give an idea of how and where to do that exploring. All the time, of course, you're thinking that an overview in a forum isn't the best way of doing it. It's a bit of a dilemma.

#2118798 - 07/16/13 10:05 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: keystring]  
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Polyphonist Offline
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Polyphonist  Offline
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Posts: 9,189
New York City
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Polyphonist

I believe in a practical approach, ......


Basically I agree with you. I like the idea of music theory growing out of experience in music and presented gradually. To start with, concepts like circle of fifths, or anything else, involve sound and relationships of sound, and they are also embedded in music.

The reality here, however, is that there are in fact people trying to learn and who don't (maybe can't) have teachers. So what is to be done here, other than finding error in explanations often offered by other fellow students trying to help? Personally I would give an overview, but encourage exploration and maybe give an idea of how and where to do that exploring. All the time, of course, you're thinking that an overview in a forum isn't the best way of doing it. It's a bit of a dilemma.

Exactly. The point is that posting in a forum is possibly the least effective way of conveying things to students, but when one (I grin) sees someone post wrong information I don't want to leave it sitting there to mislead the OP, so I correct it. wink


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118800 - 07/16/13 10:08 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
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PianoStudent88 Offline
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PianoStudent88  Offline
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Maine
Sweet06's post made sense to me.

I believe Sweet06 does have a teacher.

Sweet06, have any of the explanations others have posted, helped?


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#2118810 - 07/16/13 10:30 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
Joined: Mar 2013
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Polyphonist Offline
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Polyphonist  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9,189
New York City
Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
believe Sweet06 does have a teacher.

Well, if he has a teacher, why doesn't he ask his teacher about the circle of fifths?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2118837 - 07/16/13 11:14 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 413
Sweet06 Offline
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Sweet06  Offline
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Posts: 413
I do have a teacher! I do assume he is incredibly experienced with over 30 years teaching and I know that would take up a lot of time to explain and I also know we WILL eventually get to that point. I'm still very new so my 1 hour a week with him is VERY valuable to me and right now, as a student, i believe learning on HIS lesson plan is how I should be doing this. He has never once mentioned the circle of 5ths and I'd prefer to just do my research online and understand that I will eventually get there and implement it. Possibly like Polyphonist said, when it becomes practical in my playing. My teacher seems real big on practical teaching. He hasn't even taught me scales yet and i understand thats the very first thing lots of people learn(2 months in)! I did actually ask him about that. He stated you'd just be learning them and not really understanding their value (i actually do, probably to a higher extent than he thinks, because i have a musical buddy and i have 10 hours a day to look at the internet and do my own research).

Thanks for the explanation tho poly. I don't QUITE understand, but eventually I'll look back at this post and think wow, I'm a moron what he said makes perfect sense :P


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#2118852 - 07/16/13 11:48 PM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Sweet06]  
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dmd Offline
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dmd  Offline
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Posts: 3,333
Pennsylvania
Originally Posted by Sweet06
I do have a teacher! I do assume he is incredibly experienced with over 30 years teaching and I know that would take up a lot of time to explain and I also know we WILL eventually get to that point. I'm still very new so my 1 hour a week with him is VERY valuable to me and right now, as a student, i believe learning on HIS lesson plan is how I should be doing this. He has never once mentioned the circle of 5ths


And a wise man he is. I would suggest leaving it at that for now.


Don

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#2118916 - 07/17/13 05:21 AM Re: Returning to piano and Forum, need lots of help [Re: Shey]  
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 393
Shey Offline
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Shey  Offline
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Posts: 393
Greater Manchester, England
Polyphonist, Rob,Keystring,dmd and sweet 06, sorry I don't know how to do the 'quote' thing yet!
Your input has been very interesting, thank you all. As someone self teaching, I appreciate hearing how others find the information they need and how they go about their own learning and their various approaches to finding the answers to their questions.
I do also appreciate answers from piano teachers, but am aware, that a teacher, whilst directly answering a query, does not know how much, or little I know or understand already.

I have recently learned, from this forum, that so much can be studied away from the actual piano, and I wanted to get to grips with scales and key signatures away from piano sometimes, but just didn't know how to go about it. So for me, anyone replying to my query, is very helpful, hearing how new players find out things, teachers correcting or providing information, or just someone who has overcome a problem and found some guidance somewhere.
I wondered whether I may be getting out of my depth with the circle of 5ths concept, but reading your posts has made me determined to get my head around it.
A step by step guide would be great, and some posts here are very clear and thorough, but I would like to work with a book by the piano.

I think my next question now is, how do I find the right piano teacher, what's the best approach in finding someone who suits my learning style?


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