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Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Das] #2265741
04/23/14 08:30 AM
04/23/14 08:30 AM
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Rocky Mountains
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Might this thread be more focused if we simply all agreed that:

It is not the genre. It's the training. Don't allow yourself to be trained as a parrot. Find good training that teaches all about music/piano. Then, it's up to the student. Uh hummm ...shameful plug for a Series already mentioned in this thread. smile

I have seen this mentioned in a round about way in this thread. Just hoping for focus.

I do fear there is much out there that does train you to be a parrot. Classical training included. But not the blame of Classical. The blame is on settling for less.

Perhaps this is where much of children hating their teachers and parents comes from? They are being driven in a parrot mentality to perform. They're not being taught a love and understanding of music?


Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon
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Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Das] #2265744
04/23/14 08:39 AM
04/23/14 08:39 AM
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From another thread and posted by rachfan;

I have over 30 well-known books on piano performance in my home library and have read all of them more than once. Those that I would rate as an "A" would include Berman, Notes from the Pianist's Bench; Schenker, The Art of Performance; Neuhaus, The Art of Piano Playing, and Barns (Editor) The Russian Piano School as examples.

In addition to the books I mentioned above, far better choices would be Bernstein, With Your Own Two Hands, Newman, The Pianist's Problems, or Sandor, On Piano Playing to name just a few.


Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: The Lark Ascending] #2265787
04/23/14 10:48 AM
04/23/14 10:48 AM
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While perusing other 0.1 $ purchases of old method books, I am seeing some interesting stuff in the following:

Howard Kasschau Piano Course series : Prep + Books 1-5
Joseph M. Estella Everybody Likes the Piano: A Direct Modern Approach to Piano Fundamentals : Prep + Books 1-5

Also noticed the Leila Fletcher series also provides full mp3s for all the method books for free now at their website.

And regarding the Series discussed earlier, I have received very detailed and quick responses from the author herself to my queries regarding the suitability of the material for adults who are self-teaching. You can use the contact form at their website to send questions about the method.

Last edited by EM Deeka; 04/23/14 11:28 AM.
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: rnaple] #2265824
04/23/14 12:41 PM
04/23/14 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rnaple
Don't allow yourself to be trained as a parrot.

I do fear there is much out there that does train you to be a parrot. Classical training included. But not the blame of Classical. The blame is on settling for less.

Perhaps this is where much of children hating their teachers and parents comes from? They are being driven in a parrot mentality to perform. They're not being taught a love and understanding of music?

A parrot merely imitates - like what someone here advocated: imitating your teacher or a professional by watching him play, and playing a lighted keyboard.

Playing from music scores, as classical pianists do, isn't parroting. You have to give your own meaning to the music, show what it means to you (as well as what you feel the composer wants), phrase it so that it makes sense, and play with expression. If you just read and play what's on the page without understanding it or without expression, you're not a classical pianist. (Even when sight-reading, a classical pianist should play with expression). I'd hope that no teacher would tell his/her students to do that.

And I don't have any time for teachers - or parents - who force their children to perform. A student should perform because he enjoys the thrill of sharing his music-making with others and (hopefully) because he has something to say. Not because some blinkered teacher thinks that it's 'good' for his students to do so (even if they're shaking with anxiety at the prospect), or that 'all pianists must perform'.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: bennevis] #2265847
04/23/14 01:21 PM
04/23/14 01:21 PM
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Michael Martinez Offline
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Playing from music scores, as classical pianists do, isn't parroting. You have to give your own meaning to the music, show what it means to you


Been there, done that. Did that exclusively from age 9 to 13. I learned technique, I learned scales, I learned to read sheet music. I did not learn chord theory, I was not encouraged to improvise or to make my own music. I was not encouraged to play jazz or pop - I wasn't even asked if I wanted to play these things. I was not encouraged to play by ear.

I think my classical training was, and probably still is, typical of the way these lessons are taught. Which is not cool. I would encourage students to ask for additional guidance in terms of those other things.



Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2265848
04/23/14 01:37 PM
04/23/14 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
Originally Posted by bennevis
Playing from music scores, as classical pianists do, isn't parroting. You have to give your own meaning to the music, show what it means to you


Been there, done that. Did that exclusively from age 9 to 13.


Really? You've been there and done that? From what I've heard of your playing you've not the remotest idea of the scale of the task bennevis has outlined.


Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: rnaple] #2265851
04/23/14 01:39 PM
04/23/14 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rnaple
It is not the genre. It's the training. Don't allow yourself to be trained as a parrot. Find good training that teaches all about music/piano.

Could not agree more. You've got your classical snobs, your jazz snobs, your reading snobs, your ear training snobs. It's all music and it is all potentially great.

I would add that there is no difference between watching the notes somebody plays on the piano or reading notes off of a page. You still get the same notes. It's the interpretation you learn that will make the music your own. I often times look up the sheet music of something I hear, especially if it's fairly complicated. The written page can teach you more than your ear can, especially if your ear isn't quite developed yet. Even with a ton of experience, the sheet music can show you something you missed.

Oh, and there's sheet music for all genres too, not just classical. Reading a Dave Grusin score or a Hoagy Carmichael song is just as rewarding as playing by ear.


-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2265867
04/23/14 02:15 PM
04/23/14 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
Originally Posted by bennevis
Playing from music scores, as classical pianists do, isn't parroting. You have to give your own meaning to the music, show what it means to you


Been there, done that. Did that exclusively from age 9 to 13. I learned technique, I learned scales, I learned to read sheet music. I did not learn chord theory, I was not encouraged to improvise or to make my own music. I was not encouraged to play jazz or pop - I wasn't even asked if I wanted to play these things. I was not encouraged to play by ear.



Why would a classical pianist want to play pop, or jazz, if he has no interest in them? You keep assuming time and again in your posts that a well-rounded pianist should also play pop and jazz. Do the world's greatest classical pianists play them? No, I don't think so. (Unless they enjoy doing so, like Denis Matsuev).

I was trained from the start to play classical, and that nudged me totally away from pop (which was all I knew and heard until then). But that didn't stop me vamping pop accompaniments on the piano for friends (one of whom was also vamping on the guitar), playing totally by ear - all I had was the lyrics in front of me (because I was also singing along). It's easy, and you certainly don't need to know anything more than basic (classical) harmony to do so. As for jazz, that made no impression on me whatsoever - it wasn't until I heard Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue that I thought there might be something likeable about jazz other than a lot of noise and syncopations. But though I can, and do, use jazz harmonies these days when improvising, I still don't like most jazz, and hardly ever listen to it.

If you only played what you were taught by your teacher all those years ago, I feel sorry for you. (And just why should a classical teacher ask his students if they'd prefer to play pop tunes, or 'make his own music' instead? All that doesn't need to be taught - you just do it.) Apart from playing around with all sorts of tunes on the piano, as a teenager I also took it upon myself to learn advanced classical pieces that I'd heard on the radio (much of it technically beyond me then) which I never told my teacher - after all, it was purely for my own pleasure. And what I couldn't play, I sort of mangled my way through grin , until my technique caught up with my aspirations (which sometimes took a year or two) - you can do anything you like when you're playing purely for yourself.

I never ever felt restricted by what I was taught - my teachers selected pieces for me to learn, to help me progress as a pianist, and not all of them appealed to me (like Debussy). But it meant I had an all-round classical piano education, which equipped me eventually to be able to play almost anything, and with understanding and musicality. All the stuff I did on the periphery - which could have included jazz, if I'd chose to - made no contribution to it: I had no aspirations to play anything other than classical music well. And my improvisations are based mainly on classical techniques, except when I was playing to accompany pop songs.

You seem to be laboring under the illusion that all students should be taught jazz and pop as well as classical, and taught to 'make' their own music and play by ear.
Frankly, if after a few years of learning classical piano and having acquired a decent technique and basic knowledge of harmony (not just 'chord theory'), a student can't play simple improvisations or tunes by ear, it's because he assumed that learning piano is akin to being spoon-fed by his teacher.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2265899
04/23/14 03:18 PM
04/23/14 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
A lot of jazz pianists have classical training, but you are confusing issues. Classical training by itself is not adequate preparation to play jazz or other forms of popular music. Anyone who has been down both roads will tell you this. A few well-known people come to mind:

* Jimmy Amadie in one of his interviews talks about his frustration (actual crying) trying to learn to play jazz piano after he was already an accomplished classical player

* Andre Previn in an interview with Oscar Petersen talks about how he played "very badly" for a couple years as he made the transition to jazz

* people like Hal Galper and Mulgrew Miller also talk about this sort of thing in their interviews


indeed, most pianists who have classical training only, the more advanced they are, the more difficult they find it to make that transition. So my advice to beginning students is to do both at the same time: learn to play by ear, learn to recognize chords and harmonize melodies by ear, as well as doing your classical studies.


It really seems your are completely dismissive of classical piano study other than a bridge to jazz and modern music styles. You seem to not be allowing for the fact that some people really only want to play classical as that is what they enjoy and have no interest in jazz or other modern styles at all, and that person can be every bit as good a musician to play those pieces well as someone who plays the styles you prefer. Being able to harmonize, improvise, or play from fake books are not requirements of being a musician. They are certainly valuable abilities to have, but not the goal of many people who play for their own development or fun, or even to perform.

Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2265902
04/23/14 03:23 PM
04/23/14 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
A lot of jazz pianists have classical training, but you are confusing issues. Classical training by itself is not adequate preparation to play jazz or other forms of popular music..


That's simply not a true statement. If Chopin were resurrected, do you not think he wouldn't be able to improvise anything he wanted to, and almost instantly adapt to any modern style if he wanted to? Or Bach? Neither of them had training in "modern" musical styles.

Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: johnnysd] #2265970
04/23/14 05:59 PM
04/23/14 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by johnnysd

If Chopin were resurrected, do you not think he wouldn't be able to improvise anything he wanted to, and almost instantly adapt to any modern style if he wanted to? Or Bach? Neither of them had training in "modern" musical styles.


I'm glad you brought this up. Prior to the late-1800s, improvisation actually was encouraged as part of a standard musical education. This changed and it became completely absent in the 20th century.

MusicAlive http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/MusicPapers/MusicAlive.html

There are a couple of contemporary pianists who have resurrected the art of playing classical music the way it was done in Mozart's era, with the improvisation (real improvisation) of the cadenza.

To address a couple other people: there's nothing wrong with studying and playing classical music. If that's all you want to do, fine. But don't you think it's a little embarrassing if you are at a party and someone asks you to play Happy Birthday and you can't do it? Maybe you can rip off a Rachmaninoff, but what's it say about you as a musician if you can't find the chords for "Happy Birthday" or "I wish you a Merry Christmas" by ear?

Most music students who only take only a classical training, fall completely flat in a band setting - they can't keep up even in the simplest garage band doing the simplest pop, rock, folk or country tunes. Honestly what does this say about you as a musician?

Understand: I'm not disparaging classical music nor classical studies. I'm trying to encourage students to step outside that box.

Do you need to play jazz? No. Do you need to play rock keyboard? No.

But you should be able to keep time in a band, internalize your basic chord progressions, be able to voice these in an appropriate way for a simple band setting, and improvise in a reasonably competent way on simple tunes in a rock/pop/folk genre, regardless of whether you actually like that kind of music or not.


Last edited by Michael Martinez; 04/23/14 06:07 PM.

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http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2265997
04/23/14 06:54 PM
04/23/14 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez

But you should be able to keep time in a band, internalize your basic chord progressions, be able to voice these in an appropriate way for a simple band setting, and improvise in a reasonably competent way on simple tunes in a rock/pop/folk genre, regardless of whether you actually like that kind of music or not.


Since when does a classical pianist play in a garage band (what is it anyway?)?

Once again, you're looking down on classical pianists from your 'elevated' position as a pop & jazz piano player, and making all sorts of condescending assumptions about a genre you seem to know nothing about. So, I would ask you - can you read from sheet music and play at sight, keeping up with a violinist in a simple piece like Beethoven's Spring Sonata? I did so, with a violinist friend when I was about Grade 5 standard (three years after starting piano lessons). He was also sight-reading, but we kept time perfectly, despite scattered wrong and missed notes and fudging some of the passagework. We worked our way through several works of this sort, as well as jamming together on various tunes.

Classical pianists do this sort of thing on a regular basis - it's part of many pianists' jobs. Often with no rehearsal, as in auditions, accompanying singers and instrumentalists. Sometimes reading from full orchestral scores and reducing them to two hands.

As for Happy Birthday, I was asked to play it at short notice at someone's birthday party, just a few months after starting lessons. I played around on the piano and found the right chords within a couple of minutes. No, I hadn't been formally taught 'chord theory' then. It's just basic stuff that any classical pianist can easily work out for himself, with the skills he's acquired.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2266167
04/23/14 11:20 PM
04/23/14 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
there's nothing wrong with studying and playing classical music. If that's all you want to do, fine. But don't you think it's a little embarrassing if you are at a party and someone asks you to play Happy Birthday and you can't do it?

Any competent pianist would be able to figure it out, classical or not. But I do think it's highly embarrassing if you call yourself a music teacher and you can't read music.

So you're seriously saying that if a pianist plays a Rachmaninoff piece, you're going to say "Yeah, but can you play Happy Birthday?"

Clearly it seems you have a very limited persecutive on what lessons are, and apparently all the teachers you knew were horrible. I guess in your area there is a low standard to what they call musical training. Your tiny perspective doesn't translate to the rest of the world.


-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Das] #2266442
04/24/14 02:03 PM
04/24/14 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

Once again, you're looking down on classical pianists from your 'elevated' position as a pop & jazz piano player,

No. I'm criticizing the standard classical music instruction, that's all.
Quote

and making all sorts of condescending assumptions about a genre you seem to know nothing about.

Really? You know, I did nothing but study and play classical music for five years. In fact I won the Southwest competition put on one year by some organization, I think it was the National Music Teachers Association or something. This was a multi-city, multi-state piano competition. During my classical era I played Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, Bach, Bartok, etc - the whole 9 yards.
I have a great appreciation and love of classical music (some of it). Occasionally (not as often as I would like) I will take out the score for something I'm passionate about - such as Mussorgksy's Pictures (the original piano score) - and work on it.
Quote

As for Happy Birthday, I was asked to play it at short notice at someone's birthday party ... It's just basic stuff that any classical pianist can easily work out for himself, with the skills he's acquired.

It is basic and simple, and classical pianists should be able to easily play it by ear, but sadly this is often not the case.
Originally Posted by Brian Lucas
But I do think it's highly embarrassing if you call yourself a music teacher and you can't read music.

Who said I can't read music?
Quote

So you're seriously saying that if a pianist plays a Rachmaninoff piece, you're going to say "Yeah, but can you play Happy Birthday?"

Absolutely. I've known musicians who had a classical training, and were unable to play simple tunes like that (at least, not without a lot of fumbling around).
Quote

apparently all the teachers you knew were horrible. I guess in your area there is a low standard to what they call musical training. Your tiny perspective doesn't translate to the rest of the world.

Nonsense. I had a highly musical and artistic upbringing in a part the U.S. that's very well known for art and music. My classical teachers were good - of them was a composer whose works have been performed at the Kennedy Center - but they taught in the standard fashion, which unfortunately is lacking in many ways.

Last edited by Michael Martinez; 04/24/14 02:13 PM.

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http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2266470
04/24/14 03:03 PM
04/24/14 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez

Quote

........and making all sorts of condescending assumptions about a genre you seem to know nothing about.

Really? You know, I did nothing but study and play classical music for five years.

Five years, and you consider yourself an expert on classical music and teaching? To the extent that you consider classical teaching (with its rigorous musical and technical standards, and its thorough grounding in music theory) inferior to jazz and pop, where basically you play what you like (i.e. you don't play anything that's too difficult for your level of technique, or outside your comfort zone) because no-one can tell you you're doing it wrong?

I studied and played classical piano for twelve years, culminating with a performance diploma (after which I had to concentrate on my academic studies, which were unrelated to music), but I'm still not an expert. In fact, I'll never be, though I can play anything I set my mind to (other than the really avant-garde stuff that is indecipherable). And I don't have a virtuoso technique either, by classical musician standards.

You should go listen to a real classical pianist play the Mussorgsky Pictures, and hear the kind of nuances in voicing (in the classical sense of balancing individual notes with each other in chords etc), variety of articulation and tonal refinement, and the dynamic range he can muster - that go far beyond what you, or any garage band piano player can even dream about. It's not at all about 'reading the notes', as you keep harping on. Have you ever been to a classical piano recital?

BTW, I have been to a jazz gig (at Ronnie Scott's, London) and have come away deafened and totally nonplussed by the way the musicians seemed intent on outdoing each other in decibels rather than to listen to each other. No classical musician playing chamber music would get past a few minutes of this, without the others walking off.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Das] #2266501
04/24/14 04:06 PM
04/24/14 04:06 PM
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Since this argument is not anything about what is the best book to learn from how about PM each other?
You both are arguing about 2 completely different skill sets.
I have a friend with his Masters Degree in performance piano. I went to his recital he is far above me better technical player and can sight read a lot better than I can.
But he cannot sit in with a band and play a song with them that he has never heard or has any sheet music.
I have but it doesn't make me better than him. I can just recognize keys and chords by ear better then he can and have done a lot of improvising. We don't argue about who the better player is, he is.

They are 2 different skill sets and it doesn't mean you can't have both skills many do. It all depends on what you spent your time learning and what your teacher emphasized. I have heard this argument so many times its really gotten old.


A long long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile....
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2266503
04/24/14 04:11 PM
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To save you the trouble, here's a master classical pianist playing Pictures.

http://youtu.be/BMg_A8eYweY

Just the first few minutes should have you shaking your head in amazement at the colors, the imagery being conjured, the tonal nuances, the rhythmic acumen; and the sheer imagination, control of all aspects of piano playing and the transcendental virtuosity, as well as the huge dynamic range that a great classical pianist can get out of an essentially percussion instrument that is the modern grand. If you don't hear all that, you're not listening - just like the jazz pianists I mentioned in my last post.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: Das] #2267449
04/26/14 04:38 PM
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Posts: 162
Eagle, ID
Alfred Book 1 is a fine place to start. Finish that as a goal - that's a good thing.

I don't care much for the rest of the Alfred books.

Fundamental Keys by Rachel Jimenez is an outstanding book. LOTS of great music, and the pieces flow smoothly from one to the next - no 'this is way harder than the piece you just played' nonsense.

www.fundamentalkeys.com


Re: what is the best book to learn piano by your own..? [Re: LS35A] #2292778
06/20/14 10:34 PM
06/20/14 10:34 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Not behind my piano
JazzyMac Offline
Full Member
JazzyMac  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Not behind my piano
Originally Posted by LS35A
Alfred Book 1 is a fine place to start. Finish that as a goal - that's a good thing.

I don't care much for the rest of the Alfred books.

Fundamental Keys by Rachel Jimenez is an outstanding book. LOTS of great music, and the pieces flow smoothly from one to the next - no 'this is way harder than the piece you just played' nonsense.

www.fundamentalkeys.com



I agree; I'm glad I got this book. I've just been sitting reading and marking pieces of theory I've missed previously.

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