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Theory & Technique for someone returning to the piano
#2650352 06/04/17 01:28 PM
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Hey All:

A bit of background: I started playing piano at Age 9 with a lovely piano teacher that I stayed with until I was almost 19 and moved across the US to go to college, so I had about 10 years instruction with the same teacher. She was wonderful, but I fear I was not so wonderful. I definitely became more passionate towards the last year or so of my instruction, and made it to about level 6-7 early advanced level before I left for college. I decided to pursue a music minor for about a month in my freshman year first semester, and a combination of high stress, a 20 hour course load, a terrible piano teacher, and sever anxiety, I decided to quit.

From then on, I only plunked at the piano when I went home for christmas and summer breaks, and even that hardly at all. Almost six years later at almost 25, I've been slowly re-learning the piano and I am at about the same level I used to be before I quit. I'm learning new chopin, schumann, and tchaikovsky at a glacial pace because I don't devote as much time as I'd like.

Oddly enough, I was always a terrible site reader and a good memorizer, and now I find I'm a pretty good sight reader, though not at the speed of any piano teacher I've known, and a terrible memorizer. I'm trying to build up my repertoire again.

The largest problem I've run into is my lack of theory and technique knowledge. My childhood piano teacher was great, but gave up on an unenthusiastic teenager that only wanted to play and did not want to learn the fundamentals of theory, my education is NOT GOOD for those. To my detriment. I'm trying to remedy that, but I'm lost as to where to start. I can play a song if you set it in front of me, but I couldn't tell you what key it is in unless it was in the title, and my scales are abysmal.

I'm also traversing this without a teacher, but I'm going to look into it once I move in about a month and have an actual piano to practice on.

And perhaps an unrelated note - I can't play a song unless I've heard it already.

So does anyone have any tips on how to increase my knowledge in theory and technique - theory especially? Books, videos, anything? Any help would be appreciated. I have a scales/arpeggios/etc book and I'm going to try to learn one section at a time, and get back at my hannon.

Thank you!

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Re: Theory & Technique for someone returning to the piano
brighteststitcher #2650492 06/04/17 07:31 PM
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I'll throw out a couple of suggestions for music theory, with the caveat that I find it effective to learn theory from several different sources (teachers, books, internet) - and then find exercises and other ways to turn the concepts into practical-2nd nature skills.

For reference books I like the Contemporary Music Theory books by Mark Harrison.

For practical systematic exercises, to turn intellectual understanding into more practical skills:
- Chord Play by Forrest Kinney
- Piano Fitness by Mark Harrison
- Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg

Warning: I feel like the last 3 books require a good teacher and/or a motivated self-learner with at least an advanced-beginner level of "play by ear" skills.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Theory & Technique for someone returning to the piano
brighteststitcher #2650497 06/04/17 07:44 PM
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Welcome to the forum!
Just a question about your statement tthat you can't play music you have not heard before.... is that you are not able to read the notes, or play the rhythm or both? If you would clarify, you would probably get some suggestions here.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Theory & Technique for someone returning to the piano
brighteststitcher #2650676 06/05/17 08:03 AM
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Thanks guys,

For clarity, I can't play music that I've heard before - with rhythm. No problem with the notes. Maybe it's because I've always been terrible at counting. (beats, that is. I can count, promise.)


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