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Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: hello my name is] #2646200
05/22/17 11:02 PM
05/22/17 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Thanks DMD! Is there rhyme or rhythm to the choice of how the arpeggio is played? I mix mine up myself as well, but I'm not sure how I would explain it to someone else as to why I do what I do.


The DH course teaches what David Higginson calls "Chord Patterns" and "Rhythm Patterns".

A chord pattern is essentially a chord, presented much as pop guitar is taught (i.e. put these fingers here to play this chord).

A rhythm pattern is how to play a given chord pattern (what notes to play when).

So far, I have only gotten through the first 3 tunes, and the chord and rhythm patterns are pretty much the same with some variation. Being that I have been out of town and just got back, I am just getting back to it, so it will be a few weeks before I can more fully answer beyond what I have said here.

However, there are 13 tunes taught in the course with approximately 15 chord and rhythm patterns. Also, there are two supplement books available, one that covers a lot of extra chord patterns and one that covers a lot of extra rhythm patterns (167 patterns). It is up to the player to apply these based on what has been learned in the main course. Hopefully, by the time we finish the main course we have a pretty good feel for when to use what type of chord and rhythm pattern.

Tony

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Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: hello my name is] #2646276
05/23/17 07:50 AM
05/23/17 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Thanks DMD! Is there rhyme or rhythm to the choice of how the arpeggio is played? I mix mine up myself as well, but I'm not sure how I would explain it to someone else as to why I do what I do.


I do not think so. It is just what sounds good to you. Usually the root of the chord is on beat 1 but not always. Sometimes the 3rd of the chord results in a nice "run" to the root of the next chord, etc ....

Sometimes only 2 chord tones to the measure, sometimes 3, sometimes the entire chord, sometimes the root and the chord. Also the right hand is supplying some chord tones under the melody when possible.

Again .... complete familiarity with the keyboard is required. As long as you can keep going everything sounds good.


Don

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Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: TonyB] #2873504
07/28/19 01:47 PM
07/28/19 01:47 PM
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Resurrecting this thread noticing that our fellow member TonyB is still active after two years and to my happiness still pursuing method to better even further his playing. I would love to have his opinion in 2019 with the hindsight he has now: do you still will consider the David Higginson chord method as the smoothest route to start playing pop piano by ear, or you find it limited / too expensive versus other sources available elsewhere able to provide the same “fast” result focusing intuitively on just one aspect of comping?
Thx in advance.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2873788
07/29/19 12:25 PM
07/29/19 12:25 PM
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I would be interested to hear from Tony too. Meanwhile, Thank you for re-posting this thread. Not sure how i missed it when it was more active, but clearly i did.

I have never used this method but by the sounds of it is very similar to how my Dad taught me and the rest of his students. So, encoraging to see a chords first method still thriving, or better yet catching on.

Curious though why or how you see this as a clear path to playing by ear. I don't get the connection as the melody and harmony are provided to you, just like grand staff. Yes, you need to be creative with your accompaniment, but this will be built on the underlying chords, so you really don't need to rely on your ear that much, or any more then you would with grand staff.

Lastliy, i would go further then to say best way to learn Pop and simply say it is a great way to learn period and excellent primer if you ever decide to go full classical too. Unfortunately classicl players don't normally learn this unless they take it upon themselves. You'll be far better off when you can do both methods.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: BWrules] #2873867
07/29/19 04:49 PM
07/29/19 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BWrules
Resurrecting this thread noticing that our fellow member TonyB is still active after two years and to my happiness still pursuing method to better even further his playing. I would love to have his opinion in 2019 with the hindsight he has now: do you still will consider the David Higginson chord method as the smoothest route to start playing pop piano by ear, or you find it limited / too expensive versus other sources available elsewhere able to provide the same “fast” result focusing intuitively on just one aspect of comping?
Thx in advance.


There are many paths, as Robert Conti (the jazz guitarist and teacher says), and hopefully they all lead to the same place (meaning that you are playing the music you want to play). Yes, I think the DH method is good. It is somewhat limited in that the real focus is on accompanying yourself singing. I don't sing - simple as that. However, the course does teach you how to incorporate the melody into the style he teaches. I would suggest that you get a lead sheet (melody plus chords) for the tune "Tammy" and follow along as he uses that as the first example of how his approach works for solo piano playing. He is quite straightforward in saying that there are many tunes, the up tempo tunes, that would probably not work well with this approach.

My take on it is that this is a fun course. There is (in my opinion) no drudgery to it, so that if you are an adult with life responsibilities and you want to have fun along the way to learning to play tunes, this is a good one. I would suggest getting the "add-ons", which include a whole bunch of extra patterns and chords so you can cover a wider variety of tunes as you get familiar with the style.

In my opinion, dmd was spot on with his recommendation for this course. I have also courses from Yoke Wong, Willie Myette, and of course, the Duane Shinn method. To me, the Duane Shinn method, though the most complete, is rather dry compared to these other course. With Shinn, if you get the Crash Course, be prepared to spend years on it. It is the whole hog. With the other courses I mentioned, they are all shorter, covering a specific area in each, and you pick what you want from their respective catalogs.

You can't go wrong with any of them, but I think that the shortest path to playing songs would be the David Higginson course. Once you are playing songs via his method, you will have some solid foundation in song play to pick and choose any other area (except maybe classical) that you might want to add to your bag of tricks. Higginson's method sounds perfectly fine. You won't sound like a beginner, but eventually you will want to expand your techniques.

To me, unless you intend to be a concert pianist, this piano learning process should be fun and light-hearted and you should learn what you want to learn, when you want to learn it. David Higginson does that quite well.

In closing, since the thread is about "the best way to learn pop piano", I honestly don't have an answer for that. We all have different goals, learning styles, and abilities. A self-learner will typically buy a bunch of courses and switch between them. Nothing wrong in that - as long as you are playing and growing. It is when we substitute hanging out in forums for practice time that we get into trouble with ourselves and our consciences.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 07/29/19 04:51 PM.
Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: TonyB] #2874051
07/30/19 05:33 AM
07/30/19 05:33 AM
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Thank you Tony, much appriciated.

Originally Posted by TonyB
.... He is quite straightforward in saying that ... the up tempo tunes... would probably not work well with this approach....


Being from the STEM field and I'm quite confident you used the correct word, nevertheles since too many times up-tempo is used as synonimus of up-beat, I'll appriciate if you can confirm the method is well suited to play a slow upbeat songs (lets say a syncopated slow blues), and would proabily not work well only with a fast tempo music.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: BWrules] #2874054
07/30/19 05:56 AM
07/30/19 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BWrules
Thank you Tony, much appriciated.

Originally Posted by TonyB
.... He is quite straightforward in saying that ... the up tempo tunes... would probably not work well with this approach....


Being from the STEM field and I'm quite confident you used the correct word, nevertheles since too many times up-tempo is used as synonimus of up-beat, I'll appriciate if you can confirm the method is well suited to play a slow upbeat songs (lets say a syncopated slow blues), and would proabily not work well only with a fast tempo music.


Having been a software engineer working with embedded systems, for the past 20+ years and still taking short term contracts in retirement, I really don't see the problem, nor why STEM has anything to do with it. Also, I worked full time as a musician for a couple of years in the 1970s, travelling the Holiday Inn, resort, and supper club circuits in a trio as a guitar player. "Uptempo" typically means "not ballads", and has nothing necessarily to do with whether there is syncopation involved.

Here is a definition of up tempo:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=up+te...mp;setlang=en-US&plvar=0&PC=DCTS

ADJECTIVE
up-tempo (adjective)
played with a fast or increased tempo.
"uptempo guitar work"

ADVERB
up-tempo (adverb)
with a fast or increased tempo.
"when they move uptempo the problems start"

Also, since you made your point while quibbling about words, instead of "apricate", the spelling should be "appreciate". Instead of "synonimus", the word should be spelled "synonymous". Instead of "synonimus of up-beat" the correct phrasing is "synonymous WITH upbeat".

So now that we have cleared that little mess up, what David Higginson is saying, is that his approach, when playing the melody with his arpeggios, works best with ballads. Regarding your question about syncopation, yes, that can easily be done within the stylistic approach he teaches.

I hope this clears up your rather curious way of making your points. In future posts, please just ask your question or state your point, rather than going on about STEM and my use of words. I do believe that what I said, and the short portion you chose to quote and go after, is perfectly clear in its original form.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 07/30/19 06:01 AM.
Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2874058
07/30/19 06:14 AM
07/30/19 06:14 AM
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Pop piano refers to the field of R&C - Rhythm and Chords. But what the heck is Professional Chord System? Did I miss something during all those years?

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: Nahum] #2874076
07/30/19 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Pop piano refers to the field of R&C - Rhythm and Chords. But what the heck is Professional Chord System? Did I miss something during all those years?


Nahum,

I have seen a number of your posts in other sub-forums, and can tell that you are way beyond the level of playing that this thread is about. You are not missing anything, and if anything, I am sure we could learn a lot from you.

To answer your question, "Professional Chord System" is another self-teaching piano method. The focus of the course is on accompanying yourself as you sing, but there is also a section that shows you how to incorporate the melody for some solo piano playing. For the most part, it concerns arpeggiating the chords to a tune as provided via a lead sheet, and applying appropriate rhythms to that process.

The scope of the course is rather limited, which is actually a good thing, since so many such courses try to cover everything, and often end up doing little for the student. It is a very effective means of getting folks to the piano so that they can begin their musical journey. However,a prospective student should realize that this course represents the beginning of a very long journey. The course does not cover chord substitutions, voice leading,, etc. One would have to look elsewhere to fill these areas in, but there are certainly many places to get that information when the student is ready.

Tony

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2874157
07/30/19 10:46 AM
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I was embarrassed by this headline: “PCS”, as if a huge amount of the learned material in the harmony of different genres does not correspond professionally to the field of pop piano. I have been teaching jazz at an academic level since the 1970s, but the pop piano area was foggy for me at that time, even though it was required of me even in studio. Fortunately, my fusion band colleague ( Rest In Peace! ) , also a keyboard player, was professional in this industry leading in Israel and had professional work experience in States; so I had the opportunity to learn from her by ears and eyes during rehearsals and concerts. However, from here to the systematic work with the students there was a huge gap, which was filled with advice: "Do as I do!".
It is only at first glance it seems that one who has studied jazz, can easily start playing pop. First you need to gain a sense of stylistic boundaries of genre , otherwise it will be shooting birds from a cannon. Since that times, I began to collect information on subject of "Pop Piano" drop by drop, in order to organize it methodically at the level of the "Jazz Piano" course; no tutorials existed, only the recordings and their transcriptions. In this state of affairs, it is not surprising if something is missing; hence my question.
Today's situation is completely different; and yet the best way IMO to start learning Pop Piano is by hearing and sight , without any printed notes , which instantly create problems in rhythm.

Last edited by Nahum; 07/30/19 10:49 AM.
Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2874434
07/31/19 09:38 AM
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How about seeking out some other amateur musicians (guitar/bass/drums) and forming a band to play for fun? No need to reach for the sky, just play to your abilities. The collective responsibility will force you to do your homework. That's what I did nearly 60 years ago. The first song we played was Poetry in Motion. It was awful but it started the ball rolling for me.

Of course this raises the question of whether the aim is to play with a band, as accompaniment for a singer or for solo piano. Three very different approaches. But the band is a good starting point because in many ways it's technically less demanding while instilling essential discipline (learning the chords and playing in rhythm).


Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2874893
08/01/19 12:34 PM
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Playing with others is a very good learning experience. It's best to play with people that are at a level slightly better than you even though the play different instruments. You can tell ability by timing and if the music sounds 'correct'. And when your comfortable move on to a band that is even better, tighter more advanced songs etc. Or many times the band improves together. The things you will learn go far beyond just chords or notes. Like what chord variations work and which don't in a song. How to fit in the mix without hogging up sonic space. Rhythm, timing and ear are important. Before I played in bands, I had a hard time recognizing keys and chord progressions. And that was before the internet. I used to have a stack of Keyboard magazines and books. But after playing with others its seemed natural, I could find the key and I could recognize the patterns. But I guess the best part for me was it was fun. A lot more fun than having my nose in a book and trying to play songs from sheet music or chord charts. I learned to be able sit down at the piano and just figure out a song in a minute or so depending on difficulty. If your personable, people generally try to be helpful. So when your playing with others its like having multiple mentors showing you what they know. Best of all if you're gigging, you get paid a meager fee. You probably won't get rich, but I have bought quite a few keyboards over the years with money saved from just gigs.

Last edited by Kbeaumont; 08/01/19 12:37 PM.

A long long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile....
Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2875044
08/01/19 08:06 PM
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Playing in a band and playing solo are quite different. Who's caring the melody?

When someone says they want to learn how to play the piano, the first thing I'd want hear is a recording showing us exactly what you hope to sound like.

Who suggested "Tammy"? Recorded by Debbie Reynolds in 1957? Really!?

Tell us about your proposed repertoire. An awful lot of more recent popular music was never composed as solo piano music and will leave a lot to be desired, no matter how it's interpreted.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: seniorblues] #2875183
08/02/19 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by seniorblues

Who suggested "Tammy"? Recorded by Debbie Reynolds in 1957? Really!?



Wow! I took this song from 1964 to my cocktail piano repertoire, having no idea of "Tammy", "Livingston" or "Debbie Reynolds".

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: seniorblues] #2875232
08/02/19 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by seniorblues
Playing in a band and playing solo are quite different. Who's caring the melody?

When someone says they want to learn how to play the piano, the first thing I'd want hear is a recording showing us exactly what you hope to sound like.

Who suggested "Tammy"? Recorded by Debbie Reynolds in 1957? Really!?

Tell us about your proposed repertoire. An awful lot of more recent popular music was never composed as solo piano music and will leave a lot to be desired, no matter how it's interpreted.



The course that I was asked about in this thread was the David Higginson course. The focus of the course is mostly accompanying yourself while singing. Those who are interested in playing this stuff as solo instrumentals with the melody can do so, since he has a section on that. He starts with the song "Tammy", in which he covers what his approach is. e then goes on to some other tunes that he does provide printed information on, but I suggested that folks get the lead sheet for "Tammy" so as to be able to follow along with his initial and introductory discussion.

I like that melody, some people may not. Regardless, it is part of the course.

Tony

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2875248
08/02/19 11:20 AM
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As a follow-on to my earlier post about "Tammy", I think the ongoing discussion is interesting. However, I also feel that there are different means of learning that individuals respond best to. We each have our favored learning styles. Some folks may not necessarily be comfortable getting involved in an ensemble, and would prefer to do it alone. Despite how some folks may feel about this, there is nothing wrong with that. Some folks flourish among others, and still other folks do better taking their time alone, or at least getting some fluency before getting involved in playing with others. To me, it seems best to view this discussion inclusively, so that nobody is made to feel that learning at home on their own is somehow wrong.

My main instrument is the guitar. I did play full time professionally in a trio that played supper clubs, resorts, and the Holiday Inn circuit. We played all over the US and Canada. This was back when such a pursuit could yield a decent blue collar level living. From what I hear, this no longer seems feasible, though I don't know that from personal experience, since I did it 40 years ago. I was able to do that because, when learning guitar, I taught myself to read standard notation, as well as to work with lead sheets. Routinely, the band leader would show up with charts and we had to just play through the tune a few times and then it was gig time. It was pretty much a given with guitar, that we all learned from records back then, but being able to read was not nearly as common among non-studio or non-classically trained guitar players. Being able to manage a chart meant that you had a musical vocabulary that you could call on to translate the chart into something that fit with the rest of the band. I don't know if that has changed much.

I agree that you really do improve much faster in a group situation, but one can also learn alone, especially with the wealth of teaching materials available. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword because not all teaching materials are of decent quality, or will get you your desired result (just as it is with hunting for a "live" teacher). This is where recommendations and discussions of such teaching materials in a thread can be helpful if there is input from folks with real experience with the materials being discussed.

When I was learning to play guitar, it seemed much easier to find folks to hang out and play with. I don't know if it is a cultural shift or if it is because when we become adults we have too many other responsibilities, but it does seem that trying to schedule a meet with other folks just doesn't happen. It can be difficult to find that ensemble to play with.

My own opinion of the course being discussed in this thread has already been provided in an earlier post. I see the discussion veering off into other ways to learn, which is fine. But let's not discount those who are interested in this course and going it alone.

Edit: One possible solution to not being able to find, or want to play in, an ensemble is to utilize Band In A Box. I just finished installing the BIAB UltraPak, and the little I have been playing with it, those RealTracks can provide a reasonable alternative, especially with all the Norton fakebook disks available. Norton is a third-party vendor whose product line includes many fine fakebook disks for BIAB including the Real Book (HL version), and all the Frank Mantooth and Dick Hyman reharm fakebooks, among others. Those who play jazz will know what I am talking about, while the others will once they start digging around for information. That can be another thread, but here, just a "heads up".

Tony

Last edited by TonyB; 08/02/19 11:25 AM.
Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2878802
08/12/19 08:03 AM
08/12/19 08:03 AM
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TonyB, IIRC you did some study with the Sudnow Method. I'm curious about how you think it compares to the other courses that you have described here.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: tm3] #2878980
08/12/19 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by tm3
TonyB, IIRC you did some study with the Sudnow Method. I'm curious about how you think it compares to the other courses that you have described here.


The Sudnow method is quite different as are its goals. The Sudnow method is very focused on specifically playing cocktail piano with those big lush voicings. In that course, you learn how to practice and teach yourself, which I think is a most important aspect that most other courses either gloss over or don't address at all, with the exception of the Duane Shinn 52 week crash course (which spends time up front on that). I prefer how Sudnow discusses that aspect of the learning process, but that is just me.

Sudnow avoids a lot of the various difficulties one would encounter when self teaching by greatly limiting the scope of what he teaches. He does not, for example, teach technique beyond grabbing one "block chord" after another. So when playing as he teaches in that course, you are grabbing one chord cluster after another but not arpeggiating or otherwise adding flow to your playing.

Sudnow addresses this by saying that once your hands "learn the shape of the keyboard", you can find ways to learn whatever else you want to know. So he invites you to explore other avenues after you have a bunch of tunes in his teaching style well in hand. After the first two tunes he provides, you use his "rules" to arrange everything else yourself.

The David Higginson course is really focused on accompanying yourself while singing, much like strumming a guitar while singing. The chords are arpeggiated in a variety of patterns, depending on the feel of the tune. He spends a bit of time on playing the melody with the arpeggiating chords so you can solo, but the application is somewhat limited as previously discussed.

I think you get results faster with the David Higginson course, but the Sudnow method gives you a better grounding in music theory and arranging, from which you can then explore a variety of styles on your own. The Sudnow course is, admittedly, a bit of a grind to get through, while the David Higginson course is more fun overall.

In a way, I think the two courses are a good match because you get the grounding in how to teach yourself, the theory, and ability to arrange from a fakebook from Sudnow, and you get your hand moving and flowing with David Higginson.

So, in the end, I would say to start with Sudnow and continue with Higginson. smile

Tony

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: FrostyKeys] #2879159
08/13/19 10:35 AM
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North Carolina
Thanks, TonyB. I enjoy reading your analyses.

I just finished an interesting book, Piano Lessons by Noah Adams. It is basically a description of his first year of trying to learn piano, starting at age 51. He tries the Sudnow Method, along with several other things. At one point the author attends a week long piano seminar, and says of one of the lessons, "This is, of course, exactly what David Sudnow's course was trying to teach me, but somehow Rosamond was able to explain it better in only about three minutes."

The book is full of entertaining anecdotes about pianos and piano players. I highly recommend it to anyone who is "piano-centric."

Re: Best way to learn pop piano? [Re: tm3] #2879391
08/13/19 09:30 PM
08/13/19 09:30 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
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TonyB Offline
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TonyB  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
Originally Posted by tm3
Thanks, TonyB. I enjoy reading your analyses.

I just finished an interesting book, Piano Lessons by Noah Adams. It is basically a description of his first year of trying to learn piano, starting at age 51. He tries the Sudnow Method, along with several other things. At one point the author attends a week long piano seminar, and says of one of the lessons, "This is, of course, exactly what David Sudnow's course was trying to teach me, but somehow Rosamond was able to explain it better in only about three minutes."

The book is full of entertaining anecdotes about pianos and piano players. I highly recommend it to anyone who is "piano-centric."


Yes, good read. I read that book a couple of years ago and thought it was interesting, especially after listening to "All Things Considered" on public radio for so long. I have been waiting for the book to be released for the Kindle, but so far, no luck. I want to read it again, but can't find my hard cover copy.

Tony

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