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Learning on my own - need some input #2749416
07/05/18 04:15 AM
07/05/18 04:15 AM
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Morten Olsson Offline OP
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Hi all,

I bought a digital piano a a few months ago and have been practicing daily ever since.
The practice part is where I need some input.

Due to practical circumstances - work, small kids etc - I am unable to get an actual teacher at this time. I realise this is far from optimal but it is not something that I can change at this time.

I have been using a couple of iPad apps so far and if nothing else they have got me playing. At this stage I know the names of the keys, how to construct basic chords (major, minor, 7’s,, add6 etc) and I have learned to play some music that is pleasing to both play and listen to using Flowkey.

I have gone though most of the basic theory in Flowkey which has gotten me to where I am now. At this stage I mainly learn by memorizing - since the Flowkey app shows both scrolling sheet music and a video of an actual pianist playing the piece - I tend to end up just looking at the video instead of doing the hard work of learning from the sheet music.

What I would like to do now is progress both in my understanding of theory, my ability to read sheet music and of course in the actual dexterity and musicality required to play with confidence and feeling.

I put in about 30-60 minutes each evening and am prepared to keep putting in the work. I have a quite high tolerance for “boring” and repetitive activities as long as there is a point to them. I do find that I need to spend at least some of my practice time playing actual music that I like to listen to in order to keep motivated and actually enjoy myself.

Based on the above I would appreciate any recommendations on how to proceed from here. One book that keeps popping up is the Alfred All-In-One course - would going through this a way forward or are there other books or apps you would recommend ?

Best regards
Morten

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Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749431
07/05/18 05:34 AM
07/05/18 05:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2017
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Union SC
dobro Offline
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Welcome morten, I’m a beginner and I’ve found Alfred’s to be pretty good. I’m focused on getting the fundamentals well grounded at this point in my studies. That tolerance for repetition is good to have in this endeavor. Keep us posted.


Alesis Coda Pro
PianoVideoLessons.com Currently unit 4
Faber All In One -Level 2
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Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749444
07/05/18 07:09 AM
07/05/18 07:09 AM
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Posts: 324
Hershey, PA, USA
Handyman Offline
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Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
Hi all,

I bought a digital piano a a few months ago and have been practicing daily ever since.
The practice part is where I need some input.

.....

Based on the above I would appreciate any recommendations on how to proceed from here. One book that keeps popping up is the Alfred All-In-One course - would going through this a way forward or are there other books or apps you would recommend ?

Best regards
Morten


"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749446
07/05/18 07:17 AM
07/05/18 07:17 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 324
Hershey, PA, USA
Handyman Offline
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The Alfred AIO series is basically a sound method - it presents music theory in small, easy to understand bites consistently throughout the 3 levels of instruction and the music covers a variety of genres and is presented in a slowing increasing gradation of difficulty that is easily handled by most beginning pianists - all things considered it's recommended without too much reservation. Many use the series in conjunction with other methods/sources, and it works nicely that way.


"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749447
07/05/18 07:26 AM
07/05/18 07:26 AM
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Posts: 113
Tennessee
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Chili_Time Offline
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This youtube teacher discusses and plays through Alfred and other popular piano method books. May be a good supplement for you if you are going self study.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIeSnI-BmRMkxURGZ7nHtzQ


Last edited by Chili_Time; 07/05/18 07:27 AM.

Started Playing October 1, 2017. First Lesson Oct. 17, 2017. Currently in Faber Accelerated Piano Adventures Book 2 For The Older Beginner. Yamaha P-115.
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Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749477
07/05/18 09:17 AM
07/05/18 09:17 AM
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
Hi all,

I have gone though most of the basic theory in Flowkey which has gotten me to where I am now. At this stage I mainly learn by memorizing - since the Flowkey app shows both scrolling sheet music and a video of an actual pianist playing the piece - I tend to end up just looking at the video instead of doing the hard work of learning from the sheet music.

What I would like to do now is progress both in my understanding of theory, my ability to read sheet music and of course in the actual dexterity and musicality required to play with confidence and feeling.


Congratulations on wanting to drop the crutches, and learn to walk on your own. IMHO, the first thing to do:

. . . Drop the crutches -- stop using FlowKey.

Alfred's (according to most accounts here -- I've never used it) would be a good place to start learning to play from a score.

A warning:

. . . "Playing with confidence and feeling" is a lot harder than it seems.

If your progress is slow, don't get discouraged. Just keep plugging away . . . your playing will improve, gradually.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749550
07/05/18 02:25 PM
07/05/18 02:25 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 956
Dublin
J
johnstaf Online crying
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Dublin
The most important skill is ear training. Along with theory, it will make progress so much easier. You need to become a musician before becoming a pianist.

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749557
07/05/18 03:02 PM
07/05/18 03:02 PM
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Southeast USA
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I've been at it for a month. I think for musicality one needs to be very solid on rhythm, have some feeling for dynamics and be a decent sight reader (i am sure there is more) - but this is what i prioritize the most right now. I'm doing the Alfred's Adult AIO with a teacher. If you do Alfred's don't go to fast - doing EVERYTHING it says and only advance if you have reasonably demonstrated the ability described. My teacher has to approve my demonstration (actually i will cover several new exercises each week and she will write in my log book what i still need to work on). It's harder to do it in front of my teacher as apposed to in my room by myself (a widely held sentiment). What you can do instead is record your playing then listen to it and then decide if you are good. Most say recording yourself has a similar effect to playing in front of someone.

If you are using a digital, it might help with your dynamics if you turn the volume up forcing you to play with a softer touch most of the time. For timing, I am (besides counting out loud) using Adam Small's 'Basic Timing for the pianist' - a book of exercises of increasing difficulty. It also helps with sight reading. Good Luck!


Progman
Baldwin Console + Kawai ES100
Alfreds bk 1 + Teacher
Long Live ELP
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749560
07/05/18 03:20 PM
07/05/18 03:20 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 57
Danmark
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Morten Olsson Offline OP
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Thank you very much for all the good advice and kind words.
I shall acquire the Alfred book and get cracking - just as soon as I finish the two pieces I’m currently learning with the ill adviced Flowkey app wink

John - would you mind going into a bit of detail on what “ear training” is ?

Thanks again.

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749610
07/05/18 08:50 PM
07/05/18 08:50 PM
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In my opinion, Alfref's is the worst of the options. The approach is robotic, stilted, and leaves the left hand totally underdeveloped.

My favorite is the Russian Method, but you have to be in a certain frame of mind and have a certain degree of confidence to use it, given the overwhelming use of the other more common methods.

If I were to choose among the commonly recommended methods, I would choose Faber.

One other thing, never allow yourself to be bored. It is totally unnecessary. The key is to love what you are doing all the time.

Good luck!

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749666
07/06/18 04:26 AM
07/06/18 04:26 AM
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Morten Olsson Offline OP
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Hi Rich - thanks for chiming in.

I have yet to buy the Alfred book - would the Faber one you refer to be this:

https://pianoadventures.com/publications/adult-piano-adventures-all-in-one-course-book-1/

Or something else ?

In what ways would you say the Faber one differs from or improves on the Alfred one ?

Thanks again.

Last edited by Morten Olsson; 07/06/18 04:26 AM.
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749670
07/06/18 05:05 AM
07/06/18 05:05 AM
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Italy
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The Alfred books (there are 3 of them, now even in a self-teaching edition) have been very good for me as a teacherless adult beginner. I went through them in my first 2 years, gradually adding other things, and I think they helped me a lot with basics in all genres (there's quite a lot of folk and blues and it really helps with rhythm) and overall direction. Okay, it's not very sophisticated, you start with rigid positions, simple keys, etc., which is something that not all instructors advocate, but you can easily add more layers of complexity by watching videos/reading articles by Neil Stannard, Shirley Kirsten, Graham Fitch, Josh Wright, etc.


Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
To create a beautiful sound, one must imagine it at first and then learn to produce fluid physical motions that breathe life into music. (Shirley Kirsten)
http://soundcloud.com/sinophilia - http://youtube.com/sinophilia
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Richrf] #2749678
07/06/18 05:44 AM
07/06/18 05:44 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,632
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by Richrf
In my opinion, Alfref's is the worst of the options. The approach is robotic, stilted, and leaves the left hand totally underdeveloped.

My favorite is the Russian Method, but you have to be in a certain frame of mind and have a certain degree of confidence to use it, given the overwhelming use of the other more common methods.

If I were to choose among the commonly recommended methods, I would choose Faber.

One other thing, never allow yourself to be bored. It is totally unnecessary. The key is to love what you are doing all the time.

Good luck!


I agree with Richrf. I have Alfred's (don't use it at all anymore) and I have Faber's Adult Piano Adventures - the entire sets of Books 1 & 2. I actually enjoy Faber!! I am also looking into the Russian Method, and have bought the books. Research the Russian Method and you might be pleasantly surprised. Have fun in your journey!


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Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749684
07/06/18 06:33 AM
07/06/18 06:33 AM
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Danmark
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Morten Olsson Offline OP
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Thanks yet again :-)

The Faber's books look neat.
I looked up the "Russian method" - all I found initially was a discussion from this very forum that said it was a more technically oriented approach to learning. Out of interest which specific books are you talking about ?

Really looking forward to picking one or the other and digging in.

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749857
07/06/18 07:44 PM
07/06/18 07:44 PM
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I use the Faber book and really enjoy it. But I'd probably enjoy any of the books because I just love playing.


Started Playing October 1, 2017. First Lesson Oct. 17, 2017. Currently in Faber Accelerated Piano Adventures Book 2 For The Older Beginner. Yamaha P-115.
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Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749865
07/06/18 08:13 PM
07/06/18 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
Hi Rich - thanks for chiming in.

I have yet to buy the Alfred book - would the Faber one you refer to be this:

https://pianoadventures.com/publications/adult-piano-adventures-all-in-one-course-book-1/

Or something else ?

In what ways would you say the Faber one differs from or improves on the Alfred one ?

Thanks again.


Faber has several videos on YouTube explaining the approach he uses in his book. I think it is a very good idea to watch these videos so you have some foundational knowledge of the method you may be adopting. I like his approach. It makes sense to me.

As for the Russian Method, you may want to glance at some of the videos that are based on this method. It may be of interest to you or may not. The online course that I took for $33 a month was a fair price. Unfortunately, it is no longer available at that price. The books themselves are wonderful and teach a very well rounded curriculum. However, as I said, you have to have to be in a certain frame of mind to adopt and enjoy the approach. For me, I am not interested in tunes, but rather to develop a real connection with my instrument. Thec Russian Method suits me. Currently I study by myself and very much enjoy to freedom to explore.

Hope this helps.

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2749866
07/06/18 08:21 PM
07/06/18 08:21 PM
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Can look into online instructions to supplement playing by the book. Found a YouTube channel a while ago "Piano Lessons on the Web". You can find lessons on music theories, playing techniques, sight-reading tips, etc.

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2750147
07/08/18 12:50 AM
07/08/18 12:50 AM
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
. . .

John - would you mind going into a bit of detail on what “ear training” is ?



PMFJI --

"Ear training" develops a varied collection of skills, over a wide range of difficulty. Examples:

. . . Teacher plays two notes sequentially, asks "What's the interval between the notes?"

. . . Teacher plays two notes at the same time, asks "What's the interval between the notes?"

. . . Teacher plays a scale, asks: "Major scale or minor scale?"

. . . Teachere plays a triad, asks: "What kind of triad ?" (e.g. major / minor/ diminished)

. . . Teacher plays a four-note chord (e.g. Fmin6), asks: "What was that?"

. . . Teacher plays a triad, asks: "What inversion?"

. . . Teacher plays a C, then plays some other pitch, asks "What's the pitch of the second note?"

. . . Student closes eyes, teacher plays a note, says "Play the note a major third above that."

And so on.

I disagree with John. I think that "playing skills" and "ear training skills" develop together, rather than "ear training" being needed before you start to play. But if you want to be a musician, you must consciously develop your hearing skills, as well as your playing skills.

A story:

I wanted to join a choir, for which an audition was required. I spent lots of time with my teacher, working on things that she expected to be tested, and I thought I was well prepared. At the audition, everything was going fine, until the choir director decided to do something nasty:

. . . "OK -- I'll play the soprano / alto / bass parts of this hymn, and you sing the tenor part."

_That_, I wasn't prepared for. It tests two skills -- the ability to sight-read a line, and the ability to "hold one's own part" against other voices. That second skill is partly "can you sing?", and partly "can you listen, while you sing?"

I did OK, but it was a memorable <gulp> moment.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2750284
07/08/18 07:01 PM
07/08/18 07:01 PM
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Twin Cities
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TonyB Offline
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Here is another avenue for self-teaching along classical lines:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6urkeK7KgD4M9FI4JqF_rU6bZ6srK3Ry

This is a playlist of 45 videos that go with a set of pdf books you order from the woman who is teaching. She is well qualified, as her bio will show.

I don't need to go into a lot of detail because you can watch a couple of the videos and decide whether it is suitable or not.

Tony

Re: Learning on my own - need some input [Re: Morten Olsson] #2750345
07/09/18 06:40 AM
07/09/18 06:40 AM
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I recommend using three or more methods concurrently. I would put Faber and John Thompson (not so good on its own, excellent as a supplement) above Alfred's. I have heard good reports - from teachers - of the Music Tree method. I haven't seen or used the Bastien or Hal Leonard methods but understand them to be better than Alfred's (or not worse). Alfred's is the most popular but that's it's strongest point.

I would include Beyer Op. 101 as a supplement if you're going the classical route.

The Suzuki method itself requires a teacher but the source material is excellent from level two and up. My choice of method without a teacher would be the text of John Thompson's Modern Course up to volume three with the pieces from the Suzuki method from level two and up, supplemented with Beyer Op. 101 and, perhaps, The Music Tree.


Richard
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