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#2201013 - 12/21/13 03:58 PM My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it!  
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Punchslap Offline
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I'm yet to find time for a teacher, so I figured I'd start myself.

From one of my earlier threads, I got a load of tips on books and other learning material. I also scoured Amazon in search of reviewed material. Would you think going through these would suffice?

- Cooke - Mastering the scales and arpeggios
- Fundamentals of piano practice. CC, Chang
- George Kochevitsy's The Art of Piano Playing
- Piano playing: motion, sound and expression by Gyorgy Sandor
- Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique by Alfred Cortot

- Some fingering charts I found online.

Some standard method books I guess:
- Czerny-Schaum Book 1 (Schaum Master Composer)
- Duvernoy -- 25 Elementary Studies, Op. 176 (Alfred Masterwork Editions)
- Ecole Primaire (25 Elementary Studies), Op. 176: Piano Solo
- Essential Technique for the Pianist (Alfred Masterwork Editions)
- Technique for the Advancing Pianist (Alfred Masterwork Editions)
- Keith Snell "Scales Skills" books.
- Keith Snells "Fundamentals of Piano theory" books

DVD's
- barbara lister sink - freeing the caged bird
- Seymour Fink - Mastering Piano Technique (+book)

There also seems to be some interesting stuff on here: http://craftofpiano.com/

Does it suffice? Is it too excessive(I'd say not, as I'm probably not going to get a teacher for a long time, if ever)?


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#2201018 - 12/21/13 04:34 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Don't think I know any of those sources listed, so I can't comment on any of them! Possibly the list is too big, if I speak for myself, I've ventured into quite many sources and afterwards it seems it has it's downsides.

Many sources mean much information to digest and often the same information from some of the sources, just presented slightly differently. So my recommendation is - a few sources, but good ones.


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#2201052 - 12/21/13 05:38 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Stay awake from Cooke, and especially don't follow his physical advice. I'm in remediation against the damage, with a teacher - the only thing I did on my own that I thought was "safe" was scales.

Even better - wait for a teacher. A search in the forum should give lots of reasons why.

#2201069 - 12/21/13 06:24 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Forget all that stuff and get a teacher.

That will do you more good at the right time (just starting out) than all those other books put together.



Don

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#2201072 - 12/21/13 06:31 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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All this time you are going to spend on technique but you don't have time to find a teacher?

From your list I would suggest despite all the enthusiasm you have now will be drained away by constant technical practice. Most of the stuff on your list would not even be applicable to a beginner and without correct interpretation could lead to the sorts of problems you are seeking to prevent. Of principle importance though is learning piano needs to be a balance between learning repertoire and developing other skills. While practicing scales, sight reading, technique etc are all worthy of practice they should not dominate your practice time.

I may be off the mark here but I think many of us "boys" treat the piano as some sort of mechanical/mathematical problem easily solved by reading the and implementing the technical manuals.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2201087 - 12/21/13 06:53 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: earlofmar]  
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Sand Tiger Offline
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No time for a teacher? And yet time for all that? Come on now, that is sophistry. If it is a matter of money, I can understand. However, any person that can find the time to research that list can find time for lessons (skype is an option for the geographically isolated).

I am another self-taught beginner. It is a difficult road. If a person insists on self-teaching, I might suggest a single method book with some hints and tips on position, fingering, from videos and websites. Then spend consist time and effort on that single method book. Avoid the temptation to jump into the deep end (which is what that huge list seems to me to be) and what many self-taught folks want to do. In the short term, the deep end approach might seem to get a person further, but in the long term (and learning piano is a long term endeavor for almost all of us), the road can actually be longer by reaching for the short term gains.

As earlofmar wrote, too much focus on technique without pieces, without step-by-step small increments presented in a single method book, can be too much. A survey on this forum has the median time to complete Alfred's Book one at nine months and most of those reporting had a teacher. How much time would it take to truly learn all the material on the list without a teacher? Years, many many years, even it all that drilling didn't break a person's spirit. How well would it be learned? For most folks, not very well at all.

Of course there are exceptions, there are the adult prodigies that pop their heads in on the forum that amaze us with their self-taught tales. However, they tend to be exceptional people, perhaps 1 in a 1000, perhaps fewer. The average folks, which by definition are the vast majority of us beginners, tend not to be so vocal. For that reason, many average and even above average beginners feel less than when the superstars, the super dedicated, the super time intensive, report their remarkable achievements for their tiny time spans.

The superstars, the super dedicated reports gives a false sense of reality, because it is the best and most dedicated that tend to report most frequently. Most of the average people tend not to write at all. I tend to believe that many on the forum that feel less than average, are in reality way above average, if the entire population of piano beginners was sampled.

So my vote is nay to the list. A single method book with consistent time for practice would be better than trying to comprehend that vast amount of material.

#2201122 - 12/21/13 08:25 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Sand Tiger]  
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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
So my vote is nay to the list. A single method book with consistent time for practice would be better than trying to comprehend that vast amount of material.


Absolutely !!!!

I have been through a lot of that stuff and it has taken me a few years to realize that sooner or later you have to just sit down at the piano and learn to play ... an inch at a time.

I may not have learned that completely, yet ... but I am trying.

There is a strong temptation to BUY THINGS (Books,Courses,DVDs, even Pianos) which will help you learn faster.

The best thing that can happen to you is that you run out of money. Then, you start practicing and that is the only thing that works.



Don

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#2201155 - 12/21/13 09:43 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Buying things is good for the economy and you get new things which can be lots of fun!!
The downside is that it won't really improve your playing and you have to find a place to keep your new things in your house.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2201168 - 12/21/13 09:57 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Punchslap, your enthusiasm is wonderful and I hope the reaction to your syllabus does not put out that fire!

Consider this example. Suppose I decided that I would like to become a gymnast. Not a world class gymnast, because of course that ship has sailed long ago, but for recreational and fitness purposes, I would like to add gymnastics to my fitness routine. I am a reasonably intelligent person, and in reasonably good health.

So, wanting to become a gymnast, I could find lots of great books about gymnastics and even about anatomy and physiology and the physics of doing cartwheels and hand springs. But the simple fact is that I will certainly end up injured (or dead!) if I try any of these things without proper instruction and guidance.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2201225 - 12/22/13 12:17 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Charles Cohen Online content
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Quote
. . .
I may be off the mark here but I think many of us "boys" treat the piano as some sort of mechanical/mathematical problem easily solved by reading the and implementing the technical manuals. . .

Quote
. . . sooner or later you have to just sit down at the piano and learn to play ... an inch at a time. . . .


+1 to both of those.

"Playing the piano" is a "real-time" activity, like riding a bicycle. You can read all you want about how bicycles work, how to fix bicycles, how to ride bicycles most efficiently --

. . . But ultimately, you get on the bike, and try to ride,
. . . . . and fall off
. . . . . . . and fall off
. . . . . . . . . and fall off

and after a while, you fall off less frequently.

And after a longer while, you stay on consistently.

And then you try a dirt road, for the first time.<G>

. Charles


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
#2201291 - 12/22/13 06:39 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: malkin]  
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My plan was that I would be aware of any bad habits I shouldn't get into as a beginner whilst I was practicing. I was thinking working on pieces as well(I have a book full of sheet music with my digital piano)!

But you're probably right, the most absolute basics are best thought by a teacher. I guess I'll have to get one anyway.

Originally Posted by keystring
Stay awake from Cooke, and especially don't follow his physical advice. I'm in remediation against the damage, with a teacher - the only thing I did on my own that I thought was "safe" was scales.

Even better - wait for a teacher. A search in the forum should give lots of reasons why.


Really? I started on that book, and from what I've read, most of it seems quite elaborate. Is the rest of the content, aside from the physical advice(I guess you talk about finger positioning and similar), good(I haven't read much, but if he presents any routines or exercises, are they safe)?

Originally Posted by malkin
Punchslap, your enthusiasm is wonderful and I hope the reaction to your syllabus does not put out that fire!

Consider this example. Suppose I decided that I would like to become a gymnast. Not a world class gymnast, because of course that ship has sailed long ago, but for recreational and fitness purposes, I would like to add gymnastics to my fitness routine. I am a reasonably intelligent person, and in reasonably good health.

So, wanting to become a gymnast, I could find lots of great books about gymnastics and even about anatomy and physiology and the physics of doing cartwheels and hand springs. But the simple fact is that I will certainly end up injured (or dead!) if I try any of these things without proper instruction and guidance.


Of course not! smile

That was a good comparison. When I think about it, I actually went through a similar event regarding barbell training(trying to learn the technique for the different lifts), which could have been much more efficient with a coach. The time I actually progressed was when I had form checks(recordings of myself when lifting) put up on a forum when coaches could present their critique.

As for me having time to read books and not for going to a teacher: I spend about 2 hours of the day on the train, where I read of course. And I go to bed as soon as I get home, as i go up early in the morning to exercise.

But I have some free spots I guess; I'll try to find a teacher as fast as possible.

Thanks for your help and/or opinions everyone!

#2201349 - 12/22/13 11:52 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Charles Cohen]  
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For a person with a lot of commute time, some ear training, sight reading apps for the phone or tablet might be a good supplement. Online videos might also be helpful. I would suggest small doses as too much of that kind of thing without application can become tedious.

Another thing that I did was the watch the free Yale music appreciation course. A person can download and watch during the commute.
http://oyc.yale.edu/music/musi-112

These are lengthy, and not everyone's cup of tea, but I found them to be useful. Might make for a good change of pace from reading or apps for someone with a long commute. There is another multi-part video series on the How Music Works from the BBC that I found on Youtube. These are shorter and more for general audiences (vs. classical music lovers).

In another thread, the original poster mentioned composition as a goal. A person might also consider an Ipad or high end Android tablet for sketching out melody lines. Good musical ideas can come at any time, and sketching them out and recording them preserves them. If a person waits until they are back home with their instrument, the ideas are often gone with the wind, never to be found again. In lieu of a tablet, humming or singing into the phone is another way to record simple musical ideas.

Look at the schedule and try and find half an hour a day for practice. This may go up as a person progresses, but many say that half an hour a day is plenty for a complete beginner.

Last edited by Sand Tiger; 12/22/13 12:00 PM.
#2201707 - 12/23/13 05:06 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Sand Tiger]  
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Punchslap Offline
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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
For a person with a lot of commute time, some ear training, sight reading apps for the phone or tablet might be a good supplement. Online videos might also be helpful. I would suggest small doses as too much of that kind of thing without application can become tedious.

Another thing that I did was the watch the free Yale music appreciation course. A person can download and watch during the commute.
http://oyc.yale.edu/music/musi-112

These are lengthy, and not everyone's cup of tea, but I found them to be useful. Might make for a good change of pace from reading or apps for someone with a long commute. There is another multi-part video series on the How Music Works from the BBC that I found on Youtube. These are shorter and more for general audiences (vs. classical music lovers).

In another thread, the original poster mentioned composition as a goal. A person might also consider an Ipad or high end Android tablet for sketching out melody lines. Good musical ideas can come at any time, and sketching them out and recording them preserves them. If a person waits until they are back home with their instrument, the ideas are often gone with the wind, never to be found again. In lieu of a tablet, humming or singing into the phone is another way to record simple musical ideas.

Look at the schedule and try and find half an hour a day for practice. This may go up as a person progresses, but many say that half an hour a day is plenty for a complete beginner.


Good tips!

Those music appreciation courses and the BBC series seem interesting, I'll watch those videos. I might have to scour the web for some apps too. (I found this one, for sketching out ideas: http://www.neuratron.com/notateme.html right now)<--very costly though

Thanks!

Last edited by Punchslap; 12/23/13 05:10 AM.
#2201709 - 12/23/13 05:23 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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If money is an issue, you could start off with only like 10 lessons, weekly. Let the teacher give you advice what books/methods to follow, but let her/him especially look at your progress, at what works, what doesn't, at your technique, etc.

I have done something similar as you did. Nothing is impossible, but when I got these (incredibly affordable) lessons at the conservatory by a student, my progress was so much better, because I had a coach, I had someone who could pinpoint even the little of mistakes I wouldn't even have noticed.

#2201710 - 12/23/13 05:25 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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I'd like to say just one thing. If one doesn't want to get a teacher, why not just say it? Why do we always have to tell other people that we can't afford it, or don't have the time for lessons, or any other justification? While these may be the actual reasons for some, I think that many of us teacher-less learners just don't want to get a teacher. Many think that this is a bad choice, but it is a choice that must be respected.

Of course a good teacher (not any teacher!) will make one progress faster and become a better musician than any book or online course, but do we need to go there every time? Yes, it can be unnerving when someone comes to the forum and asks how to play grade 8 pieces after a few months of self-learning. If I were a teacher, that would drive me crazy. But there are many other people who are simply looking for friendly advice on a sensible, progressive study regimen.

Punchslap, the problem with the Internet is that you can get too much information. It's hard to pick and select. I would just try some of the materials you mentioned and see if they work for you, but I would focus more on music and less on technique (as others have said).


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#2201713 - 12/23/13 05:53 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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@sinophilia,

Youre right that we should respect that. However, in OPs opening post, he mentions he has yet to find time for a teacher, which (maybe erronously) seems quite odd, that he does have time for all of his suggested material.

Of course, he may not want a teacher. I had such a moment in time with my singing. I was fed up with having teachers, because I felt that they couldn't help me.

Last edited by Manolito Mystiq; 12/23/13 05:54 AM.
#2201714 - 12/23/13 06:10 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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sinophilia Offline

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You're right Manolito, the problem is that most people feel the need to apologize for their choice not to get a teacher, since reactions are usually negative. And with their apologies they actually trigger such reactions.

But together with the usual reprimand, Punchslap also received lots of good advice.


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Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)
http://soundcloud.com/sinophilia
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#2201719 - 12/23/13 06:33 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: sinophilia]  
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
I'd like to say just one thing. If one doesn't want to get a teacher, why not just say it? .........


In a perfect world I wish everyone would be more truthful but that involves an individual being able to understand themselves at a deeper level. Many of us cannot be truthful with ourselves never mind on a forum, add to that the confusion of this new thing which is piano and how to go about it. I also wonder if people are just being very guarded for not all forums are as nice as here.

If you had asked me before I got a teacher why I didn't want one I might have told an untruth. I probably could not have articulated it at the time and feel others coming to this forum are also unsure but thankfully most are still open to the possibility. Some things that influence us in our stand on not wanting a teacher;

a) Many have had a hard time at school and become anti teacher orientated. Not so uncommon for people to spend a lifetime trying to show how wrong the education system was to pigeon hole them as useless or factory fodder.
b) Depending on the individual, (but I definitely think it's more of a man thing), many people don't like to ask for help and dont even know how to ask for it and what to ask for. Instead we have already pre-determined we will need to get along without it.
c) Some people think getting a teacher is cheating...that by not learning through dogged determination, trial and error is a cop out.
d) Some cannot fact getting a teacher because that is going to mean a return to the school days of discipline, exams, home work and generally being answerable to someone else.

So yes I do think we have to go there every time, I wish we did not, because the reasons for not wanting a teacher are to me never that plain.......or gawd dam it have I been reading between the lines too much again.

One more thing I tend to automatically respond to people get a teacher for two reasons:
a) Trust me it is hard to live with the regret of leaning something and years down the track you are still wondering have you learned it properly, is there something missing?
b) Few of us have ever been students at an advanced level so are not capable of being good students at piano. If you have not developed discipline and good analytical skills in another field it stands to reason you are more likely to fail in the self teaching piano.

Sorry for the long post I am doing anything to get out of practicing tonight.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2201722 - 12/23/13 06:45 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: earlofmar]  
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Sorry for the long post I am doing anything to get out of practicing tonight.


I don't believe you, you're addicted to practicing! wink

(same here though)


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#2201750 - 12/23/13 09:30 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Piano Adventures Level 1 and 45 minutes a day for three months. After that you will have a good idea of what you need.


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#2201931 - 12/23/13 04:16 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Maybe I should explain myself: If completely honest, I do have time for a teacher. But that is only at a certain time during Thursday and Friday evening(and the weekend of course). I am actually busy the rest of the week. So that is some free time that would be taken away. I've also had some odd experiences regarding my other instrument, the electric guitar. At the age of 12-13, been playing for about 2-3 years, I had developed better technical skills in certain areas than my teacher; this, I had learned at home by myself. He did point out some basics, sure, but at that age I didn't really analyze things as I'm able to today(considering my age back then). Today I'd fix those things he pointed out by myself. My point is that this guy wasn't as proficient as an actual teacher(in my opinion) should be, so if I were to get lessons from him today it would be a waste of time.
The only piano teacher in my area is part of the same "squad" if you will, which mainly teach school kids at the age of 8-15. I'm not sure, but I have the feeling my experience will be the same with the piano teacher; but I'm yet to find out though.
But I also realized that the traditional, or standard, piano teaching method is much more "evolved" than that of electric guitar; for example, physical analysis(Edit: 'technique analysis' was what I meant) of electric guitar is close to non-existent; there is no standard repertoire or pieces graded by difficulty etc. Anyway, considering this, it may be possible that my assumption about the piano teacher not being able to teach me stuff may be wrong.

That is all smile

Last edited by Punchslap; 12/23/13 05:54 PM.
#2201939 - 12/23/13 04:30 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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malkin Offline
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I thought my schedule would be complicated, but when I spoke to my (then potential) teacher, he suggested Saturday afternoon, which works great for me.

Some of my lesson stuff is completely as I would have expected--you know, use a method book, practice stuff, pass it off, and get new stuff. The rest of my lesson stuff is completely new news to me. My teacher teaches me stuff--has me try different ways to play, provides insight where I am confused, and direction when I flounder.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2202037 - 12/23/13 09:29 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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dmd Offline
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If you have a good teacher sitting beside you during your lesson ...

In my opinion, the main advantage of a teacher is to help you with your playing technique and also directing you with what things to do to help you improve as a player.

It is not so much WHAT you play as it is HOW you play it.

A good teacher will help with that.




Last edited by dmd; 12/23/13 09:29 PM.

Don

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#2202040 - 12/23/13 09:36 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: dmd]  
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Assuming you practice one hour per day (inclusive of one hour with a teacher), you only have the guidance of an instructor 14% of your time each week. The good teacher prepares you for the other 86% of the time when they are not sitting next to you.


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#2202066 - 12/24/13 12:11 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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The right time to find a teacher is when you've gotten as far as you can without one.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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#2202079 - 12/24/13 12:57 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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I like Janet Vogt's Mastering Music 1A-2B books. Throw in a couple of her simplified repertoire books and some scale practice and one has a pretty comprehensive study plan for the beginning self-taught. In my humble opinion, of course.

In your non-playing time read and watch everything you can find about the piano and piano playing. Never have piano down-time. ;^)

#2202096 - 12/24/13 01:35 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Sedona Drum]  
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TheodorN Offline
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Originally Posted by Sedona Drum
Never have piano down-time. ;^)
In my (humble) opinion, that is just a recipe for becoming a burn-out, in anything, piano and whatever.

At least if piano is supposed to be a hobby and something that gives you enjoyment. To never take my mind of piano, would at least make me feel piano playing as a burden.


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#2202362 - 12/24/13 01:34 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Something tells me your opinion is never humbly given. But, hey, TheodorN; see that little winky-eye at the end of that statement? That sort of means "not to be taken too seriously".

This is why I spend such little time on Forums.

#2202523 - 12/24/13 08:32 PM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Brian Lucas Offline
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Originally Posted by Punchslap
Anyway, considering this, it may be possible that my assumption about the piano teacher not being able to teach me stuff may be wrong.
I'd at least find out first. It's true that many teachers aren't all that qualified to teach (I see this a lot, especially in the voice world). But at least with your previous bad experiences, you know to be a little more cautious. It would still be a big benefit to do a little research to find a good teacher. Even if you only plan to take a few lessons, it would still be a way to get off on the right foot and help you focus on what you should be working on.

By the way, I've gone the other way. I play a little guitar and try to apply my piano knowledge. I've learned a lot with books and videos, but I still have taken lessons from time to time to make sure I'm using my practice time wisely. I obviously think online learning is a great new tool, but I also believe that nothing can ever beat a skilled teacher watching you play, showing you how to improve, and personalizing lessons to your specific needs.


-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2202583 - 12/25/13 12:03 AM Re: My learning material for my "self-course"; judge it! [Re: Punchslap]  
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Try just one little book, or just scales (once you find some approved fingerings). A little bit of instructional material goes a long way -- the rest is having someone to help you, and actually practicing of course.

I really do think you should try to get a teacher, at least for a few weeks. If you don't like or can't stick with lessons, then don't. But try them for a bit first so that you can have a head start on how to play and which materials to use! I.e., use the same materials that your teacher would give you if you had one :P.


Beethoven - Op.49 No.1 (sonata 19)
Czerny - Op.299 Nos. 5,7 (School of Velocity)
Liszt - S.172 No.2 (Consolation No.2)

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Rachmaninoff - Sonata 2, movement 2 in E minor
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