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Piano advice #2898663
10/09/19 03:29 PM
10/09/19 03:29 PM
Joined: Oct 2019
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SineV Offline OP
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Greetings all. New here.

Picked up piano, and music in general in it's entirety, last November. Took a couple lessons but the teacher was so bad it almost made me quit music. Started with a casio hundred dollar keyboard (which I thought was a good enough piano to learn on... Yup), upgraded to alesis recital and managed to learn a couple classical songs (an actual couple), took the summer off as didn't have time, got back into it honing my skills on the songs I know and bought a casio px-s1000 (was that or the Roland fp 30 and ended up liking the casio better) which I'd say is my first, real, piano.

So now I've got to take it seriously, and that kinda gives you my full music background. What I want to know, and to ask all of you, is I just learned notes and learned these songs off sheets. Slowly. Very slowly. And now that I'm about to try and learn another song (I don't want to compose, just play) I'm wondering if I should learn chords (or learn other things like key signatures by heart, or is a basic knowledge good enough for that?).

I have an idea of what chords are and that you can use them to play songs, but beyond that they are a mystery. When I try to look online what they are and should I learn them, websites all tell me the quickest way to learn them. That's not what I'm trying to find out.

And another reason I'm asking is one of the songs I learned was canon, which I was told is just chords played apart (I know that's called something, El dente or something). So I have a really easy gateway drug if I want to learn chords, but why? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, right now at least.

Tldr, what are chords, how are they useful, will they help me play songs, should I learn them, and why should I learn them. That's basically my question. Do I learn a new song one or a couple notes at a time, or will chords change my piano world?

Help in this will be greatly appreciated and I thank anyone who provides some useful information and advice.

Thank you

SV

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Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898681
10/09/19 04:24 PM
10/09/19 04:24 PM
Joined: May 2001
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Welcome to Piano World:

When you write "songs," what kind of music do you play and do you want to play?

Learning chords and about chord progression can be helpful in playing popular music. On the other hand, if you want to play classical piano music, then your second best route (first would be a good teacher) is to get any one of the many piano method books which will take you, step by step, through the process of learning how to read - and eventually play - classical music.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898709
10/09/19 05:42 PM
10/09/19 05:42 PM
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dmd Offline
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What you need to do is try another teacher.

Tell the teacher what type of "songs" you would like to play.

Then, let that teacher help you.

A teacher will help if you do what they suggest.

If you argue with them, they cannot help.

Good Luck


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898729
10/09/19 07:08 PM
10/09/19 07:08 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,210
Canada
keystring Offline
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On this - not in order to persuade you to anything, but just to give information.
Originally Posted by SineV

And another reason I'm asking is one of the songs I learned was canon, which I was told is just chords played apart (I know that's called something, El dente or something). So I have a really easy gateway drug if I want to learn chords, but why? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, right now at least.

The cords played apart - arpeggiated or broken chords - (al dente is undercooked spaghetti wink ) - but there is in fact important information here. I'm sure you were being given the Pachelbel Canon in D.

Music typically consists of chords and melody. Even when there is "just" a melody" there are underlying chords. They work together. The chords are arranged in patterns, around some primary or fundamental chords, which can get fancier as you add layers and tweak them. But these primary patterns are what makes the whole thing work. And it happens that they are locked into the Canon in D - If you absorb it, then you have a great deal of the structure of music. This must be your teacher's reasoning.

There have been a few fun take-offs on this, which started with the "Pachelbel Rant". To put you in the loop, the notes he names are the bass notes of this sequence - as you listen on, you will hear him jump from one piece of (popular) music to the next, all of them having this sequence of chords.



This does the same thing - different songs - same idea (they all have that underlying chord sequence)



This one proposes that popular songs are "all" based on the same four chords


Anyway, that's the element.

Last edited by keystring; 10/09/19 07:09 PM.
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898730
10/09/19 07:11 PM
10/09/19 07:11 PM
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
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SineV Offline OP
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frown...

Well... I want to say thanks anyway, but I don't want to be dishonest. I guess I'll see if I can find a more helpful forum. Can't say I didn't try here. Kinda depressing though. Anyway.

Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898731
10/09/19 07:26 PM
10/09/19 07:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
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SineV Offline OP
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Originally Posted by keystring
On this - not in order to persuade you to anything, but just to give information.
Originally Posted by SineV

And another reason I'm asking is one of the songs I learned was canon, which I was told is just chords played apart (I know that's called something, El dente or something). So I have a really easy gateway drug if I want to learn chords, but why? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, right now at least.

The cords played apart - arpeggiated or broken chords - (al dente is undercooked spaghetti wink ) - but there is in fact important information here. I'm sure you were being given the Pachelbel Canon in D.

Music typically consists of chords and melody. Even when there is "just" a melody" there are underlying chords. They work together. The chords are arranged in patterns, around some primary or fundamental chords, which can get fancier as you add layers and tweak them. But these primary patterns are what makes the whole thing work. And it happens that they are locked into the Canon in D - If you absorb it, then you have a great deal of the structure of music. This must be your teacher's reasoning.

There have been a few fun take-offs on this, which started with the "Pachelbel Rant". To put you in the loop, the notes he names are the bass notes of this sequence - as you listen on, you will hear him jump from one piece of (popular) music to the next, all of them having this sequence of chords.



This does the same thing - different songs - same idea (they all have that underlying chord sequence)



This one proposes that popular songs are "all" based on the same four chords


Anyway, that's the element.



Thanks man, the first two responders who either didn't even bother reading my question were super depressing. Hate seeing people not get the help they need, like answers to the questions they asked instead of blaming them or changing the subject. I spend a fair amount of time in photography forums so I see it all the time and I try to take your approach.

I appreciate the clear difference in attitude. At least one good experience came from here.

Truly, thank you.

And my teacher didn't teach me anything. I went to a teacher with some specific questions, basically looking for advice and got much the same kind of attitude as the first two responses. Unhelpful. She was very self important and claimed a love of music, but if you're questions didn't have anything to do with her then she lost interest. Anyway, I paid her to do something for me, she accepted, told me to come back on a month and it'd be ready, and started working on it the night I showed up, on front of me, at the lesson... Couldn't afford more lessons after my place got robbed so I started my own path. Learned a basic folk tune I can't remember the name of, two repeats, then two more repeats, very easy.

I remembered hearing canon on a keyboard I owned as a kid (a basic kids one) and heard it again on the casio for 100$ I got on amazon and remembered it liking it and decided to try to learn it. So all that, was me. I just went blindly forward and taught myself (greensleeves, that's the song). Anyway, turns out I loved that I picked that song because it taught me that chords exist and that they can be broken and started easy but got progressively harder and harder. I honestly, looking back, don't think I could have picked a better first song to learn and it fills me with joy to play it every time (even now, knowing that some people use it as a wedding song and I'm fundamentally against weddings). So I'd like to find another song like that to play but not if I should settle down a tiny bit and maybe use that song to my advantage again and dissect its chords. Unless they aren't all that useful.

But no, I know that song inside out now. No joke, by the end of the third month I could play it with my eyes closed and when I get stuck every now and then I find it easier playing with my eyes closed (I know I need to learn to read music, it's on my list and I'll get to it soon).

(and I love spaghetti, never had it arpeggiated though. smile

Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898797
10/10/19 12:56 AM
10/10/19 12:56 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,503
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Originally Posted by SineV
......... I'm wondering if I should learn chords (or learn other things like key signatures by heart, or is a basic knowledge good enough for that?).

SV


this website is pretty good at explaining music theory. Note this link is only part 1 and there are more parts to watch. While it is very useful to learn about chords, it would be more useful to learn about them in the larger context of general music theory, so I would be starting out with scales and key signatures.

Do you need to know much theory to play and enjoy music? no not really. However the more theory you learn, the more music becomes demystified.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: Piano advice [Re: earlofmar] #2898849
10/10/19 07:13 AM
10/10/19 07:13 AM
Joined: Oct 2019
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SineV Offline OP
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Thank you. Would you be willing to briefly explain how scales are useful?

Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898851
10/10/19 07:18 AM
10/10/19 07:18 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 7,044
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by SineV
Would you be willing to briefly explain how scales are useful?

Melanie Spanswick, a well-known teacher who publishes books and articles, has posted on her blog 6 reasons why scales are so important to piano. Take a quick look at this link. Summarized they are:
  • coordination
  • accurate fingering
  • finger strength
  • keyboard geography
  • learn all 24 musical keys
  • develop rhythm, articulation, and speed


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898857
10/10/19 07:48 AM
10/10/19 07:48 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 3,164
Florida
cmb13 Online content

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Another perspective is that scales and chords go together. If you know the scale of a key, you can derive all the chords. They are basically every other note, beginning with the position in the key. It gets a little wink more complicated, but that’s the basic premise.

For instance, in C, the notes are C D E F G A B C
The chords are:
I CEG
ii DFA
iii EGB
IV FAC
V GBD
vi ACE
vii BDF

Note the I IV and V are upper case, because they are major and the ii iii vi are lower case bc they are minor. The vii is a diminished.

Another example:
Db: Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
I Db F Ab
ii Eb Gb Bb
and so on

When you learn the scales, you can easily learn the chords.

There are 12 major keys and 36 minor keys, so this project can take a while. Must music instruction, however, has people learning only one or two per year as they progress. I spent about two years, however, learning all of them in a methodical order, around the circle of fifths. From that I can play any chord, major or minor. Those are the basics, from there we add on extended chords, 7ths, 9ths, etc.


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

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"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898858
10/10/19 07:52 AM
10/10/19 07:52 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 3,164
Florida
cmb13 Online content

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One other thing, I wouldn’t have been so quick to jump down dmd and Bruce’s throats. They’re trying to help also, and are quite active and helpful here. dmd believes a teacher is the best route to avoid confusion and Bruce was asking for additional information to help guide you as well as he can.

:cheers:


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

YouTube

Working On
Debussy Clair De Lune
Bach Inventions
Grieg Sonata - Andante molto

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: Piano advice [Re: cmb13] #2898862
10/10/19 08:16 AM
10/10/19 08:16 AM
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SineV Offline OP
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Originally Posted by cmb13
One other thing, I wouldn’t have been so quick to jump down dmd and Bruce’s throats. They’re trying to help also, and are quite active and helpful here. dmd believes a teacher is the best route to avoid confusion and Bruce was asking for additional information to help guide you as well as he can.

:cheers:


Thank you for the advice Ty and cmb. I will absolutely look into scales. With the new piano keys being just that much heavier, I would like to try and practice some things and getting the advice from someone who can narrow down the large pie that is the internet is very helpful.

And I wasn't jumping down their throats as much as I was completely dismayed. New user's first impression to the forum is one guy asking what kind of music I want to write, to someone who only mentioned not wanting anything to do with composition. And the other guy tells him to get a new teacher and not argue with them next time, assuming I have the time, money, or resources in my area to get such a teacher, and that the onus was on me for arguing with my teacher. As I said I spend I fair amount of time on various photography forums under various pseudonyms and often see new guys get wrecked by users who blast them or don't even read their questions. One example being a guy who had a 400$ lens trying to take a complicated shot and needing help figuring out why his settings weren't working, only to be given the advice from three or four people of the start with advice like "your lens sucks, you need this 2000$ lens to get that shot", and "why are you shooting in jpeg? You'll never get.....". I try focus on what the people are asking if I can, rather than blame them or ignore their questions.

I mean, that's why they (and me) came to the specific forums. Because we couldn't find the answers in the overwhelming sea of information out there. Get a better teacher? But obviously I don't have a teacher, that's why I'm here. Was it too much to use that information you may have learned from your years and hours of practice, or is get a better teacher all you amount to? That is why I appreciate the information you gave. You guys know what may work, or has worked, and it gives me three or four options that I can then further filter down into what works best for me. This is for fun. I'm not trying to be a concert pianist. I just want to play some music and maybe bring a little beauty and nice music into some people's lives, and I have. But not knowing where to start is especially hard.

So thank you again for the help. I will look into it in earnest and see what I can find out. I have a few books on piano but again, trying to find what works for you isn't as easy as get a book and just do what it says. If it doesn't inspire or motivate you, then why are you doing it? I made it through canon, and while I'm sure it's a super basic piece to you all, I was really proud of myself for getting to the end of it. It motivated me. Playing hot cross buns, not so much, but maybe scales and chords would. Hence my desire to know from the pros if that was worth my time knowing I didn't have any interest in writing. Just playing some tunes here and there.

From what I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong, both scales and chords are very much about the music itself more than any specific song. And chords are an easy way to learning and playing contemporary music, and scales help you learn your board and give you some finesse. That's what I've gathered so far.

Thank you

Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898868
10/10/19 08:45 AM
10/10/19 08:45 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 3,164
Florida
cmb13 Online content

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Doesn’t everyone have a $2000 lens? JK mine only cost about $1100, and it came with an iPhone X!!

Scales and chords are very useful. They’re the building blocks of all music. The more classical, the more relevant. Also useful in jazz. In jazz and pop/rock, the chords are useful as they enable you to play from lead sheets with transitioning quickly from one chord to another.

Try this: play a C chord with the L hand, then play some notes with the right, beginning with a C. Then play an F chord, and play some more notes beginning with an F. Then same with a G chord, then back to a C chord. 4 beats each. That’s how music is constructed, and that’s an example of a common chord progression....I IV V I. As you get more comfortable, try to lead to the next chord...example, play C E D E for the C, which gets you to the F to begin the F chord.

If you do begin this journey, make sure you have the very important basics of form down. Play with good hand and arm posture, relaxed but not flimsy wrist, no tension in the non playing fingers, and play to the bottom of the key bed even when playing softly. These principles are very important and will pay off down the road if you pay attention to them now.

Pick up the Henle book as it has all the scales, and other exercises. Don’t jump in fully yet though - use it as a reference at first. Playing these properly is a whole different topic.


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

YouTube

Working On
Debussy Clair De Lune
Bach Inventions
Grieg Sonata - Andante molto

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898870
10/10/19 08:46 AM
10/10/19 08:46 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 3,164
Florida
cmb13 Online content

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And Canon in D is a beautiful piece, not easy depending on the version, one you can keep in your repertoire for a lifetime.


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

YouTube

Working On
Debussy Clair De Lune
Bach Inventions
Grieg Sonata - Andante molto

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: Piano advice [Re: cmb13] #2898896
10/10/19 10:18 AM
10/10/19 10:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2019
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SineV Offline OP
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Thank you again. But you are speaking way out of my league. Which is good honestly. When I understand what you mean by play ac chord and do the thing that etc, I'll know I'm on the right track.

The piano version I have is simple. I mean as an amateur who didn't know what the lines and dots meant, I manged to learn it simply by reading notes off a page in three months practice, so it can't be too hard. Found the version I used on musicnotes, but it doesn't need to be complicated to be beautiful. My inspiration for learning the piano honestly was ludovico's pieces, whom I see getting bashed frequently for being the pop of classical or whatever. I think that just means it's simplified, but I don't need to wear my business monocle to listen to it and enjoy it. I don't need to dissect it to find it beautiful to hear. My goal is to "master", or play well, nuvole bianche. That's when I will be happy with my ability.

But to me this is akin to storytelling. That song is a beautiful story that I'd like to be able to tell. I over ambitiously started trying to learn that one before my green-ness became wonderfully apparent and I found a canon I thought I could play. And even then I struggled. Play one note, then four, then one here, then two here, then every second note, then every note, then don't play one note here or there but hump back into without missing a beat, then the ending wtf. It was like a kid jumping from one rock to the next, but being afraid of every next rock. I'd earn some success, but he bewildered by the next "how can my brain and hands do that?". I like the tune itself, but I am so stoked by how it helped me learn little things.

You know if there are more songs like that? Start you out sort of easy, but sound nice, and gradually pick up the difficulty little by little? I mean every time I got stuck, I was stuck for about a week each time, but I enjoyed it. I tried moonlight sonata, but it was too tricky for me at the time. Too fast maybe compared to the 66 beat of the canon I got.

Either way, long journey ahead and so far it's been good enough that I've bought two pianos in a year, and donated the beginner one to a child looking to learn piano and music. Gotta put good into the world if you expect any good to happen.

And I don't own a phone, but I do own several thousand dollars in glass and camera stuff. At roughly hundred dollars a cell phone bill, plus the cost of your (I'm sure) very advanced apple lens :P, per year, that's over 1200$. But I'd rather go out and use that to try and advance my photography (and now trying with a little music). I feel like I get more enjoyment out of spending in person time with friends, and following passions, rather than the next fad phone so I can hear the gossip of the facespace. Not knocking. Do what makes you happy. Above all else, if it doesn't hurt someone, do what makes you happy.

Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898906
10/10/19 10:51 AM
10/10/19 10:51 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 994
Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
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Why don't you pick up Alfred's Adult all-in-one piano book 1? It's heavy in chord learning and will basically teach you what you're wanting to know, without extraneous stuff that you don't care about. There's scales in there too, and with 3 books in the series, you can go as far as you want. 😊

https://www.amazon.com/Adult-All-On...&hvtargid=pla-332970365722&psc=1

There's also a HUGE thread on these forums for people working with the Alfred series. You can get all your questions answered there. 👍

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...ult-piano-course-book-1.html#Post1070137


Lisa

Currently working on RCM 7 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898912
10/10/19 11:10 AM
10/10/19 11:10 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 994
Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
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Originally Posted by SineV
I have a few books on piano but again, trying to find what works for you isn't as easy as get a book and just do what it says. If it doesn't inspire or motivate you, then why are you doing it? I made it through canon, and while I'm sure it's a super basic piece to you all, I was really proud of myself for getting to the end of it. It motivated me. Playing hot cross buns, not so much, but maybe scales and chords would.


You have to start somewhere. Wandering around, picking random things to learn without having a basic knowledge of music isn't going to get you where you want to be. I'm certain you didn't do this with photography, right? You learned basic things first, and then you progressed. You wouldn't take this approach with math or science either, so why do it with music, which is its own science/math? Learning an instrument is exactly the same. It's learning in a linear fashion, not skipping around, picking up this and that without knowing what it means. If you go forward in that way, it will take you years to learn and understand the basics of music, which you can honestly learn in a few months of due diligence. Sure, music is about being inspired! It's also a good amount of work in learning the rules.


Lisa

Currently working on RCM 7 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Piano advice [Re: ebonykawai] #2898915
10/10/19 11:16 AM
10/10/19 11:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 7,044
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Posts: 7,044
Originally Posted by ebonykawai
You have to start somewhere. Wandering around, picking random things to learn without having a basic knowledge of music isn't going to get you where you want to be. I'm certain you didn't do this with photography, right? You learned basic things first, and then you progressed. You wouldn't take this approach with math or science either, so why do it with music, which is its own science/math? Learning an instrument is exactly the same. It's learning in a linear fashion, not skipping around, picking up this and that without knowing what it means. If you go forward in that way, it will take you years to learn and understand the basics of music, which you can honestly learn in a few months of due diligence. Sure, music is about being inspired! It's also a good amount of work in learning the rules.

This is a common problem that I've read about here on PW. Yet it seems not so much of an issue for kids. Is it because kids just do what they are told to do and if they are told to sit in a math class, in that class they sit? Or is it because the brain has changed in adults so they have difficulties learning the way children do, left foot in front of right, and alternate, etc. etc.?


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Re: Piano advice [Re: SineV] #2898922
10/10/19 11:30 AM
10/10/19 11:30 AM
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Adults have a history of learning/success in other areas, so we expect we can just determine our own learning course because we ‘are smart, motivated, successful. Children do not have this history.

There is a great deal of humility needed to accept you need to start at the very beginning, take it slowly and not skip a ‘bsby step’. Kids, generally, don’t question this


"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: Piano advice [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2898980
10/10/19 01:34 PM
10/10/19 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
This is a common problem that I've read about here on PW. Yet it seems not so much of an issue for kids. Is it because kids just do what they are told to do and if they are told to sit in a math class, in that class they sit? Or is it because the brain has changed in adults so they have difficulties learning the way children do, left foot in front of right, and alternate, etc. etc.?
\
It can be because the kids who don't fit in, or who are too bright, are labeled as "problems". If they're lucky, they won't be prescribed Ritalin to slow them down or whatever is done nowadays.

If a child is taught music well then it won't be left foot right foot, and it will be the kind of teaching that I want as an adult. wink

I taught a language to siblings once. One was always going on tangents, while the other did what s/he was told. Guess who went further ahead? No, it was not the second one.

Btw, if someone creates a teaching video where in the middle he shows a Tonic chord in open position in random inversion, and "teaches" that this is "wrong" and "not" a Tonic chord anymore - I'm not sure I'd go further with that lesson. Unless you are aiming to pass an exam (ABRSM?) for the sake of passing exams.

The Pachelbel Canon teacher, if he could manage to bring his ideas across, was giving the basic structure lying underneath most music. One way of learning is to absorb a pattern non-intellectually, building it up in your system, and eventually getting the names and patterns. Or it can be done at the same time. This was another way of bringing in music theory. (potentially - if taught - rather than hoping the student would somehow intuit it).

Starting by playing scales as a beginner? There are a number of technical considerations with piano. The "thumb under" thing especially. When I first returned to piano I argued with a teacher / was perplexed when she said that scales are not a thing to start with, and gave half a dozen reasons why.

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