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#2624828 - 03/18/17 12:15 PM James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano  
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Inero Offline
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Inero  Offline
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Rural Manitoba, Canada
Hello all,
I have been lurking for a while to pick up ideas and have now registered. I am flute player who recently acquired a hand-me-down Yamaha NU1 piano and decided to try to teach myself using James Rhodes' quirky little book <How to Play the Piano>. Has anyone experience/opinion of it?
I am aware of the Get-a-teacher argument but I live in a rural area and have no wish to commit myself to lessons in the distant city. Besides, I taught myself to play the flute and just about everything else I know.
Rhodes teaches one to play a single piece of music (Bach's Prelude BWV 846). So I am treating it as a term project and am undecided where (if anywhere) I go from there. I am hoping to glean information from this friendly site.
Michael

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#2624920 - 03/18/17 05:00 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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Richrf Offline
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Hi Inero,

I have a running blog on the Piano Career Academy online course that you may want to take a peak at. I'm also self-teaching and so far am quite satisfied with this course coupled with some supplementary material and video channels on Youtube.

I haven't tried the Rhodes approach. Everyone is different so I think you can pretty much figure out whether one approach is more appropriate for you vs. another.

My own preference is for approached that focus on fundamental techniques, repetition, hearing and visualizing the music and ultimately creative expression. This takes a very long time since I am developing a full, holistic, engagement with mind, body, and spirit (this was my approach with Tai Chi and dancing).

If you are looking for specific recommendations, you might want to describe in more detail your preferred approach and learning style as well as the tour of music you prefer.

Good luck!

Last edited by Richrf; 03/18/17 05:27 PM.
#2624927 - 03/18/17 05:19 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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Albunea Offline
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Originally Posted by Inero

Rhodes teaches one to play a single piece of music (Bach's Prelude BWV 846).


That would have been way too difficult for me, Michael. I personally have enjoyed starting with Primer method books...which have nothing to do with Bach. smile

#2624949 - 03/18/17 06:06 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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chopin_r_us Offline
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Is it the method where you stick tape on the keys to mirror the staves?

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#2624976 - 03/18/17 08:06 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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Inero Offline
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Inero  Offline
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Thanks, Richrf, for your remarks. I will check out your running blog. I am sure I can learn from it.

As for preferred approach, as far as piano is concerned, I don't have one. On piano I am about as beginner as beginners get. Elsewhere in music I play only what I like. I love exploring traditional music, Baroque, and some of the corny Victorian parlor songs. In that way I never feel it's too much of a slog. I have not much patience with doing exercises simply because that is what is expected. I learn music to give me pleasure. If there is no pleasure to it, I may as well be outside cutting wood for winter.

That is not to say I avoid challenging parts or don't apply myself to the needed chore of learning what keys go with what notes, etc. Before I started I looked at the Alfred method, the Bastien, as well as the Faber books. None of them really spoke to me. I came across the Rhodes book by accident and liked his approach. And, no, Chopin r us, no tape is stuck on the keys. In fact, it is quite rigorous in that one learns one bar at a time in groups of four, working slowly with both hands before speeding up.

James Rhodes himself is an interesting and unconventional character. Google him and check out his website.
Thanks for all responses
Michael

#2624978 - 03/18/17 08:11 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,080
earlofmar Online content
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This was one of the earliest pieces I learned and you will have a great time with it. Even better is when you unlearn it and return to it a year or so later with an improved technique and performance ability.

I don't know if the book will go into detail of the theory/form of the piece but it certainly would make it easier to learn if it did. My own cheat at the time was to give the measures, which are best learned as block chords, arbitrary names because I had very basic chord knowledge. Unthinkable now but it certainly did make learning the piece easier.

Most of us who came to piano from another instrument now watch those neglected original instruments collect dust, such is the magnetic power of piano. I can almost guarantee that if you learn the Bach Prelude in C, you will be hooked like the rest of us smile


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

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#2624979 - 03/18/17 08:16 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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Richrf Offline
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Richrf  Offline
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Hi Michael,

If Rhodes speaks to you then Rhodes it is. I'm sure as you progress, you'll discover supplemental resources as questions arise. If you are of the mind, you can do what I did, and keep us appraise of your learning process on this or a new thread. It's always interesting to hear how other self-study members are doing.

As you might find on my blog, I love Nikoleav's Russian School of Piano Playing along with the Piano Career Academy online course, find Bastien a very good supplement, follow various YouTube Channels, and practice other arts along with piano using a similar approach. There is no end, just a beginning. 😃

Last edited by Richrf; 03/18/17 08:22 PM.
#2625006 - 03/18/17 09:34 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
Joined: May 2012
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Greener Offline

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Greener  Offline

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Joined: May 2012
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Toronto, Canada
It is a beautiful piece and I have no issue starting with Bach.

What I got from the videos is that he is essentially showing and explaining to you how to play the piece. I really skimmed over it all quick so maybe didn't get the entire essence, but this is as it appeared to me. He seemed to be doing a nice job of showing and explaining how to play, though it is essentially by rote learning if you did nothing else. Perhaps there is attention on the reading aspect somewhere, but I didn't see it.

The approach is actually similar to how I was taught initially -- getting caught up came many years later and is taking many years --, but so long as you understand what you are getting. You may be able to learn a piece much faster this way and carry forward the playing aspect of what he teaches in the videos, but it is really reading you need the most right now. You actually need both, but reading will be the most benefit to your future and should come first and the rest can take more time.

I'd suggest learning the piece from the score first, and using the videos at the end. cool

You can always ask for help here too, if you were to ever need it.




#2625012 - 03/18/17 09:56 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Richrf]  
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Cutestpuppie Offline
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Originally Posted by Richrf
Hi Inero,

I have a running blog on the Piano Career Academy online course that you may want to take a peak at. I'm also self-teaching and so far am quite satisfied with this course coupled with some supplementary material and video channels on Youtube.

I haven't tried the Rhodes approach. Everyone is different so I think you can pretty much figure out whether one approach is more appropriate for you vs. another.

My own preference is for approached that focus on fundamental techniques, repetition, hearing and visualizing the music and ultimately creative expression. This takes a very long time since I am developing a full, holistic, engagement with mind, body, and spirit (this was my approach with Tai Chi and dancing).

If you are looking for specific recommendations, you might want to describe in more detail your preferred approach and learning style as well as the tour of music you prefer.

Good luck!

hey could you link your blog?

#2625015 - 03/18/17 10:01 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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Richrf Offline
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Richrf  Offline
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Hi Cutestpuppie,

It's over here:

Diary of Piano Career Academy online Russian Method course

Basically, I am describing my experiences while taking this online course, hoping it will help others decide if they are interested themselves.

#2625048 - 03/19/17 02:59 AM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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chopin_r_us Offline
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London
I was thinking Harold Rhodes.

#2625096 - 03/19/17 09:11 AM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
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zrtf90 Offline
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Ireland (ex England)
I haven't read the book but I suspect Rhodes does a fine job of teaching this piece and that you'll probably enjoy the ride and the result.

If at the end of it you want to pursue piano further you will need to step backwards rather than progress from where you get to. It is a glance at being a pianist not a method of becoming one.

If you are thinking of taking up piano you might get more benefit from the Rhodes approach if you follow it in parallel with a more traditional method book or two.

Playing a piece on the piano, and this one in particular, is more limited than becoming a pianist. The latter uses a wide range of skill sets that take time to develop.

I think this might be an excellent supplement to a method book, as I do learning something like an Einaudi piece that you can respectably play for others after a reasonable period of study. Method books fail to develop pieces that need to be tackled in stages as a longer term project or give experience in solving real problems at the keyboard, especially architectural ones - they are not geared towards adults in the broader sense of the term. The Bach piece gives an excellent opportunity to develop this skill without making excessive demands on untrained fingers.



Richard
#2625134 - 03/19/17 11:31 AM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
Joined: Mar 2017
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Inero Offline
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Inero  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2017
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Rural Manitoba, Canada
Chopin r us: James Rhodes/Harold Rhodes, yes, quite a coincidence!
I am keenly aware that the Rhodes book is a project piece (to get you playing a Bach prelude in a short period of time) rather than a method, but that is what drew me to it.

If I may back up a moment to explain that I am an accidental piano player. I was (still am) perfectly content playing my flute, an instrument that has been with me longer than I care to admit, when fate presented me with a surplus-to-requirement digital piano in the form of an eightieth birthday present a few months ago. I toyed with idea of selling it on then decided to learn the thing (am I glad it wasn’t a Sousaphone! “How far into the woods do I have to go to play?”). The Rhodes project suited my situation. Ten days in and I can play the first four bars with both hands.
Greener: of Rhodes you say <He seemed to be doing a nice job of showing and explaining how to play, though it is essentially by rote learning if you did nothing else. Perhaps there is attention on the reading aspect somewhere, but I didn't see it.>

The videos on his site are more for inspiration and promotion than instruction. There are only four of them. The book starts with him telling you to learn to read music. (“If you want to know how the piece sounds there are plenty of YouTubes.”). After that it’s up to you to decipher the sheet music. I am at home with the treble clef but the base clef is terra incognita.

I am exploring other sources to supplement the Rhodes and I appreciate the helpful comments on this thread and elsewhere. Thank you.
Michael

#2625157 - 03/19/17 01:35 PM Re: James Rhodes' book: How to Play Piano [Re: Inero]  
Joined: May 2012
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Greener Offline

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Greener  Offline

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Joined: May 2012
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Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted by Inero
...
I toyed with idea of selling it on then decided to learn the thing (am I glad it wasn’t a Sousaphone! “How far into the woods do I have to go to play?”). The Rhodes project suited my situation...

Happy belated 80th. I guess you don't need to go too far into the woods just to play a few things, though there is plenty of time. With a solid music background as you have from years with the flute, and with the supplemental things Richard mentioned which you will be exploring, seems you've made a good choice. I would only hope that this method also has more pieces like this you can learn, so you do not become a one Bach piece wonder. smile

If you can learn to read this one though (which you are), then you can learn others like it and that are graduating in difficulty if you like. If you choose pieces that you have a desire to learn and can get passionate about learning, then the practicing comes easy. Welcome to the forum and best of luck. This is also a great resource for any help you may need.


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