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If you plan to play pop?
#3011386 08/08/20 12:43 AM
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Just looking for some insight on this...

My main goal is to be able to play pop music covers. By pop I mean mean classic rock covers such as guns n' roses, david bowie, U2, Queen, Pink Floyd, etc. and some of today's pop (lady gaga as some of you know already) and from what I learned here it's all called "pop"

Anyways, my teacher still has me continue with Bach minuets, musettes, czerny etudes, other etudes, which I do enjoy. Just wondering, in your opinion does building a foundation with these support my goals? I'd assume what she is doing is actually making me become more knowledgable and proficient and then when I get far enough along I'll play the pop stuff much better with how she is training me.

Wondering what others think?

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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011389 08/08/20 01:22 AM
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If your teacher is doing a satisfactory job, she is teaching you to read music, to understand notation, to develop technique, all of which will help in the goal of playing pop music.

My guess, however, is that at some point, after you have learned and mastered the basics - however basic you want those basics to be - you might want to branch out and work with a teacher who can teach pop music. Perhaps your current teacher can, but many classically-trained pianists don't have that skill because they don't have that training. It is a different approach to piano playing, certainly because so much of it involves improvisation and the understanding of jazz (and pop) harmony and the ability to create harmony and harmonic progressions. With classical music, as you know, one plays what is written, no more, no less. With pop music much is left to the skill and musical imagination of the performer.

Yes, I can play pop music from lead sheets although all my training is classical, and I can do pop music reasonably well. But I have never been trained in that music and I can't perform popular music to the standards of someone who does it professionally.

And do look in on the Non-classical forum from time to time with your questions about pop music if playing that music is your ultimate goal. Although many here can answer your questions - or may try to - you may get responses from those who have more experience in pop than do some of us here.

That's not meant to discourage you from asking questions here, however; I'm sure we'll do what we can.

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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011402 08/08/20 02:40 AM
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If your main goal is playing pop music covers from notation like the hundreds of simple arrangements that are floating around, then learning from a classical style teacher will do just fine. YouTube’s best known pop cover player, Vika Yermolyeva, plays 100% from notation / memory and she is classically trained to conservatory level.

It is only if you want to learn improvisational techniques or learn to play by ear that you might need to look past classical teachers.


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011408 08/08/20 03:11 AM
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In my humble opinion several years of classical training is a must. Certainly nothing prevents you from playing easy pop/rock arrangements during this time.

And concerning jazz teacher I think it's worth hiring one (if you want to) only when you already have some technical foundation. Otherwise you'll struggle to follow his or her instructions and your lessons will be inefficient because of this. Most probably a jazz teacher won't nurse your beginnerish technical problems.


By the way the best performers of pop music that I know have all had classical training in childhood. And I would dare to say almost all classical pianists play pop from time to time. Even Kissin does.

Last edited by Iaroslav Vasiliev; 08/08/20 03:13 AM.
Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011431 08/08/20 06:56 AM
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I would recommend to be proactive, and find a pop piece at your level that you would like to learn, and bring it to your teacher during your next lesson, and ask her if the two of you can work with that piece as well. smile


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011436 08/08/20 07:28 AM
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When there was an audition on the place of keyboard player for the ensemble accompanying David Bowie, from 200 pianists Mike Garson was chosen, who had solid classical technique, repertoire, sight-reading, sounded good, and also played mainstream jazz, and in the style of Chick Corea.
That is, in order to sound good in pop music, you need first to master the instrument, and this is possible only on the basis of classical repertoire ; Freddie Mercury also went this way, though without reading the notes. Therefore, it is good that you have a teacher!

As for the pop style, there are some peculiarities : first, you must be able to read chord symbols, including bass; but this is the easiest part.
Secondly, most pianists assume that they sing the song melody and play the accompaniment (I don’t know how in your case). In any case, the comp, in addition to the knowledge of harmony, requires the study of typical stylistic rhythms that do not exist in classical music, which requires specific textures and corresponding rhythmized chord arpeggiating (maybe strumming?). You can find this kind of material in Mark Harrison's "The Pop Piano Book".

Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011442 08/08/20 07:51 AM
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I looked for Pop arrangements for piano in a music store before. There are versions for easy piano you don't really need special techniques or a teacher to guide you. These are pieces arranged with just the melody (1 note at a time) and a simple bass line (1 note at a time) like pieces out of a beginner's book. If you play from a book for intermediate & advanced piano, many of the songs have an introduction before getting into the main melody and you play more notes together. You'll be surprised to find "Beetle Greatest Hits" or "Beach Boys Greatest Hits" arranged for easy piano.

There are some Pop songs that are played with a piano solo as accompaniment like many Elton John classics, Billy Joel "Piano Man", Queen (Freddie Mercury) "Bohemian Rhapsody", John Lennon "Imagine", etc. Many songs have drums, guitar and other instrument effects in the background so you're not producing the original song as a piano solo.

A few years ago I got hold of "Abba Gold" for piano with many Abba greatest hits including "Dancing Queen", "Mama Mia", etc. It's the closest thing you can get to the original but some of the background effects like drum, electric guitar & synthesizer would be missing. Of course you can find a book with Abba songs for easy piano.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
Nahum #3011488 08/08/20 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
If your teacher is doing a satisfactory job, she is teaching you to read music, to understand notation, to develop technique, all of which will help in the goal of playing pop music.

My guess, however, is that at some point, after you have learned and mastered the basics - however basic you want those basics to be - you might want to branch out and work with a teacher who can teach pop music. Perhaps your current teacher can, but many classically-trained pianists don't have that skill because they don't have that training. It is a different approach to piano playing, certainly because so much of it involves improvisation and the understanding of jazz (and pop) harmony and the ability to create harmony and harmonic progressions. With classical music, as you know, one plays what is written, no more, no less. With pop music much is left to the skill and musical imagination of the performer.

Yes, I can play pop music from lead sheets although all my training is classical, and I can do pop music reasonably well. But I have never been trained in that music and I can't perform popular music to the standards of someone who does it professionally.

And do look in on the Non-classical forum from time to time with your questions about pop music if playing that music is your ultimate goal. Although many here can answer your questions - or may try to - you may get responses from those who have more experience in pop than do some of us here.

That's not meant to discourage you from asking questions here, however; I'm sure we'll do what we can.

Regards,

Thanks, BruceD. Once I have a solid foundation I would love to be able to do some basic improvising, playing from ear, making my harmony based on lead sheet, etc. I always forget there's a non classical forum out there! Is it poor form to simply repost the question there, and just let them know it's a repost?


Originally Posted by scirocco
If your main goal is playing pop music covers from notation like the hundreds of simple arrangements that are floating around, then learning from a classical style teacher will do just fine. YouTube’s best known pop cover player, Vika Yermolyeva, plays 100% from notation / memory and she is classically trained to conservatory level.

It is only if you want to learn improvisational techniques or learn to play by ear that you might need to look past classical teachers.

Vika is one of my favorites. Is improvising a while different area study? Such as, just because you get really advance in piano doesn't mean you can just improvise you still have to study it?


Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
In my humble opinion several years of classical training is a must. Certainly nothing prevents you from playing easy pop/rock arrangements during this time.

And concerning jazz teacher I think it's worth hiring one (if you want to) only when you already have some technical foundation. Otherwise you'll struggle to follow his or her instructions and your lessons will be inefficient because of this. Most probably a jazz teacher won't nurse your beginnerish technical problems.


By the way the best performers of pop music that I know have all had classical training in childhood. And I would dare to say almost all classical pianists play pop from time to time. Even Kissin does.

Agree! And I plan to stick with her for the long term. I was thinking once I have a very solid foundation then studying up in the pop area but doesn't mean I need to stop lessons with her even when I get to that point maybe just add in some pop study.


Originally Posted by Animisha
I would recommend to be proactive, and find a pop piece at your level that you would like to learn, and bring it to your teacher during your next lesson, and ask her if the two of you can work with that piece as well. smile

Good point and funny you say this as I just brought her Bohemian Rhapsody and she was actually excited that I asked to learn it. She has taught it a bunch and says it's a great piece to learn. I'm sure we may have to simplify some of it for me but the score I got is a pretty basic version. All 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 notes etc., and no syncopation etc. I was actually surprised that I was able to quickly play the 4 note chords


Originally Posted by Nahum
When there was an audition on the place of keyboard player for the ensemble accompanying David Bowie, from 200 pianists Mike Garson was chosen, who had solid classical technique, repertoire, sight-reading, sounded good, and also played mainstream jazz, and in the style of Chick Corea.
That is, in order to sound good in pop music, you need first to master the instrument, and this is possible only on the basis of classical repertoire ; Freddie Mercury also went this way, though without reading the notes. Therefore, it is good that you have a teacher!

As for the pop style, there are some peculiarities : first, you must be able to read chord symbols, including bass; but this is the easiest part.
Secondly, most pianists assume that they sing the song melody and play the accompaniment (I don’t know how in your case). In any case, the comp, in addition to the knowledge of harmony, requires the study of typical stylistic rhythms that do not exist in classical music, which requires specific textures and corresponding rhythmized chord arpeggiating (maybe strumming?). You can find this kind of material in Mark Harrison's "The Pop Piano Book".

Yes and that's why in no way I'm saying I want to quit this approach as I feel I'm advancing a ton and I'm more motivated than ever with her as teacher. I just want to mindful and have an idea of what approach to take when I get to that point.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011492 08/08/20 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
[...]Once I have a solid foundation I would love to be able to do some basic improvising, playing from ear, making my harmony based on lead sheet, etc. I always forget there's a non classical forum out there! Is it poor form to simply repost the question there, and just let them know it's a repost?


[...]

No, I don't think that that is poor form at all. I have seen posts from one forum repeated in another when the poster feels there may be additional advice or opinions to be gleaned from another forum.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: If you plan to play pop?
BruceD #3011580 08/08/20 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Sebs
[...]Once I have a solid foundation I would love to be able to do some basic improvising, playing from ear, making my harmony based on lead sheet, etc. I always forget there's a non classical forum out there! Is it poor form to simply repost the question there, and just let them know it's a repost?


[...]

No, I don't think that that is poor form at all. I have seen posts from one forum repeated in another when the poster feels there may be additional advice or opinions to be gleaned from another forum.

Regards,

Sounds good. Thanks for the tip! I'm going pop over and there and see what advice they offer.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011594 08/08/20 03:04 PM
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I suggest you try playing pop by ear, thus killing two birds with one stone, as it were whistle.

You get acquainted with playing in a different way, and doing it with the right sort of music. Pop (and folk, bluegrass etc) musicians don't play from sheet music - in fact, many only play by ear, not even from lead sheets.

Start with very easy stuff, simple tunes you know well, which only use two or three chords. Not Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously. Maybe something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-43lLKaqBQ (can you figure out the chords, and even play the same notes as in the song?)

It goes without saying that if you know some basic harmony, you're already well on your way.

When I was a kid, every piano student (even myself) was playing pop songs by ear. Sheet music of pop songs arranged for piano simply didn't exist, or if they did, none of us could afford it. (I bought classical sheet music for the equivalent of one cent per piece from the sales box in my local music shop, which was all I could afford).


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
bennevis #3011631 08/08/20 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
[...] pop songs arranged for piano simply didn't exist, or if they did, none of us could afford it. (I bought classical sheet music for the equivalent of one cent per piece from the sales box in my local music shop, which was all I could afford).

How very true. And, like me, I am sure that you had to walk miles to and from school in the sleet and snow, struggling valiantly because it was uphill both ways! Life is so much easier now!

Regards,


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011649 08/08/20 05:14 PM
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Maybe your teacher is already doing this, but when you are learning classical pieces you can/should be able to write a fake book version of each piece. This way you develop your sense of what the melody is and what chord you are on and what chord you are moving to. Once you do that you can also try a simple rearrangement / improv on the piece. You don’t need to wait till you start on pop music to develop these fundamental music skills


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
Sebs #3011783 08/09/20 02:32 AM
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I'll tell how it happens in my lessons with students with a baggage of classical music. It all starts with two things: listening to a few versions of song's recording or video and studying a prepared lead sheet - f.e. Let It Be . Even if there is a printed version for two hands, we are interested in the melody and chords only . In any case, the student learns to sing a song with lyrics. To begin with, the student simply plays chords with bass in their rhythm as an accompaniment.
The next stage: the transfer of rhythm and groove, partly using the original bass part and the characteristic strumming in chords of rhythm guitar and / or piano, including accents.
If the goal is to play the song and comping on the piano, then continue to search for textures for the right hand (melody) and for the left (combining chords with bass in one hand, using the sustain pedal).
For ballad-type songs, you will need to become familiar with open and spread chord positions ; however, those who have already played Chopin know it practically; it remains to explain to them the principle of such a texture in the left hand - with a demonstration of various works by Chopin. Put a fishing rod in a hands instead of fish!
The right hand also uses typical textures to embellish and thicken the melody. All this can be found in the aforementioned "Pop Piano Book" by Mark Harrison.

Working with students with no long experience of playing the instrument and poorly read notes, focuses on playing by ear with a simplified texture, sometimes only bass in the left hand. In such a student, it is hardly possible to read "Let It Be" accurately.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
bennevis #3011807 08/09/20 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I suggest you try playing pop by ear, thus killing two birds with one stone, as it were whistle.

You get acquainted with playing in a different way, and doing it with the right sort of music. Pop (and folk, bluegrass etc) musicians don't play from sheet music - in fact, many only play by ear, not even from lead sheets.

Start with very easy stuff, simple tunes you know well, which only use two or three chords. Not Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously. Maybe something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-43lLKaqBQ (can you figure out the chords, and even play the same notes as in the song?)

It goes without saying that if you know some basic harmony, you're already well on your way.

When I was a kid, every piano student (even myself) was playing pop songs by ear. Sheet music of pop songs arranged for piano simply didn't exist, or if they did, none of us could afford it. (I bought classical sheet music for the equivalent of one cent per piece from the sales box in my local music shop, which was all I could afford).
Yes to all of this.

What helped me play pop music war harmony classes and ear training. Having classical training also helps putting what you hear on the keyboard. Especially learning to feel at home in various keys.


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Re: If you plan to play pop?
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Ideally you 'll want a classically trained Teacher that teaches Pop. Specifically playing by lead sheets and coming up with your own accompaniments.

If you've decided this is the goal, then although the notation route will benefit you, it is a long road and on it's own won 't be enough. You'll still need chord and lead sheet training eventually anyway.

The problem is that much of Pop isn't well notated. You may find some good arrangements but not enough to be fulfilling if this is going to be your main focus.

All training contributes, but where you are now is the long road for non-classical.

Winging it all by ear is fine if you wish to be an average amateur but not for the more serious Pop player that is striving for quality. Learning from experts is not reserved for classical only.

Last edited by Greener; 08/09/20 02:37 PM.
Re: If you plan to play pop?
Greener #3011960 08/09/20 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Ideally you 'll want a classically trained Teacher that teaches Pop. Specifically playing by lead sheets and coming up with your own accompaniments.

If you've decided this is the goal, then although the notation route will benefit you, it is a long road and on it's own won 't be enough. You'll still need chord and lead sheet training eventually anyway.

The problem is that much of Pop isn't well notated. You may find some good arrangements but not enough to be fulfilling if this is going to be your main focus.

All training contributes, but where you are now is the long road for non-classical.

Winging it all by ear is fine if you wish to be an average amateur but not for the moe serious Pop player that is striving for quality. Learning from experts is not reserved for classical only.

Any suggestions on where to start? Such as, any dedicated to improvising, harmony, lead sheets? I will certainly also ask my teacher too but I'd love to start on the journey towards it.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
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Originally Posted by Greener
Winging it all by ear is fine if you wish to be an average amateur but not for the more serious Pop player that is striving for quality..
Serious Pop players make the transcriptions themselves.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
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Improvisation comes about last.

I would not change anything drastically, but ask your current Teacher when you'll begin discussing chords. If it is years out, that is an indication of timeline. If you're in no hurry, perhaps stay the course. Nothing will be wasted meanwhile.

Re: If you plan to play pop?
Nahum #3011976 08/09/20 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Greener
Winging it all by ear is fine if you wish to be an average amateur but not for the more serious Pop player that is striving for quality..
Serious Pop players make the transcriptions themselves.

The pro's do, yes.. The ones that do it well didn't start from scratch on their own, most likely.

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