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The traditional route to learning classical piano
#3025661 09/16/20 01:02 PM
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Hi I have a question about learning classical piano. I'm a guitarist with a BA degree, and some piano courses were required. So I've already learned music theory, music reading and basic piano. I have no problem playing pop piano comping as long as it's not too challenging. I always regret not learning piano when I was a child (I took lessons for about one year). I asked a few friends who have been learning piano since they were young about what did they study.

So here is my question, now I wanna learn classical piano but I'm not sure how most people who took formal lessons were learned, or more specifically, what books did you use? Most of my friends told me they used Thompson or Faber first, then added some technique books like Hanon and Czerny, and after that they just practiced lots of exam pieces for exams until they got to grade 8. I was wondering if you guys were the same? Because I've had a basic understanding of playing piano like posture, scales and chords, I prefer not to have a teacher. Could you please tell me what books you used when you were learning piano? Thank you in advance!

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Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025668 09/16/20 01:19 PM
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I was in a similar situation, and I started with the Alfred's Adult complete method books. There are three volumes, and I found that volume 3 was about right for me when I restarted.

Sam

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025671 09/16/20 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
I wanna learn classical piano [...] I prefer not to have a teacher.

Well, since you have a music degree you could probably manage yourself but a teacher could still help with more advanced technique.

Anyway, if you already had basic piano you could probably skip the method books and start exploring repertoire level by level. I personally prefer the RCM syllabus because there are more selections to choose from and because in ABRSM many of the pieces in are copyrighted arrangements that you have to buy.

https://files.rcmusic.com//sites/default/files/files/RCM-Piano-Syllabus-2015.pdf

You can also follow all the technical requirements level by level. Reading and aural requirements may be easy for you if you have a music background.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025673 09/16/20 01:30 PM
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"Classical" piano is a general term that can include early music: Baroque period or earlier, Classical period (including Mozart, Haydn & early Beethoven) and Romantic (19th century) and modern 20th century music. They are different genres with different ways of interpretation.

I am enrolled in group piano class at a local conservatory. The teacher also does 1 on 1 private lessons. Group class is for general interest and we are not required to take conservatory exams. I can switch to private lessons and take the exams at any time. Czerny Etude & Hanon is in my collection with a few books for easy piano including the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach.

Pop music tend to focus on the melody with simple accompaniment / repeated chords throughout the whole piece. Classical music can be written with 2 or more melodic lines stacked on top of each other. If you already know how to read music, learning to read the treble / bass clef is not the issue. You need learn basic finger positions and how to be proficient moving up & down the piano.

When it comes to Classical repertoire, anything that is at least 50 years old (to the middle of the 20th century) is public domain so I can download just about any piece without paying for the score.

The first thing is to hook up with a piano teacher to get more info. If you need to take the conservatory exams up to a certain level, you need to be playing piano for at least a few years. Definitely need to be good at sight-reading both the treble & bass clefs, not off lead sheets.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
Sam S #3025682 09/16/20 01:48 PM
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Thank you. What technique books are you using?

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
Qazsedcft #3025685 09/16/20 02:02 PM
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Thank you. So is it true that most people who started learning piano when they were young used method books, then just endlessly practiced repertoire and technical stuff like scales, chords, arpeggios etc listed for exams? What technique/exercise books are mostly used? I don't know what books to buy or I don't need them at all if, let's say I get all those ones listed in the syllabus?

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025686 09/16/20 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
I've already learned music theory, music reading and basic piano. I have no problem playing pop piano comping as long as it's not too challenging. I always regret not learning piano when I was a child (I took lessons for about one year). I asked a few friends who have been learning piano since they were young about what did they study.

So here is my question, now I wanna learn classical piano but I'm not sure how most people who took formal lessons were learned, or more specifically, what books did you use? Most of my friends told me they used Thompson or Faber first, then added some technique books like Hanon and Czerny, and after that they just practiced lots of exam pieces for exams until they got to grade 8. I was wondering if you guys were the same?
I started with John Thompson's Easiest Piano Course, then (within three months) it was straight on to real piano/keyboard music by real composers (Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns). No arrangements, no simplifications of existing piano music.

Then my teachers picked the pieces for me to learn that taught me more and more skills like legato pedalling, articulation (staccato to legato and everything in between), voicing (any of ten notes in a ten-note chord and polyphonic playing), and more advanced techniques like thirds. Almost every piece was designed to improve my technical and musical skills. In the first few years, I was learning on average a new piece every week.

Exam pieces took up only a tiny part of my overall learning - the exams of course also required scales & arpeggios, sight-reading and aural skills.

Then - eight years on from my first lesson -, I woke up one bright morning, and discovered I'd obtained my Grade 8 thumb, and it was on to diplomas....
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Because I've had a basic understanding of playing piano like posture, scales and chords, I prefer not to have a teacher. Could you please tell me what books you used when you were learning piano? Thank you in advance!
If you want to develop a truly advanced classical technique in years to come, you'll need a good teacher to get you there. It depends on what standard of piano you're currently playing. For instance, can you play Bach's Two-Part Invention in A minor, BWV 784 (which is intermediate standard, Grade 6)? If you can, with good technique and musicality, you might be able to make a lot of progress on your own. BTW, guitar skills don't transfer to piano - and you can't have long nails to play piano.

If you just want to check out classical pieces of your level to play, use this list (which corresponds to ABRSM grades, and used by school kids for GCSE and A Levels exams in the UK) - almost all the pieces can be obtained free from IMSLP:

https://qualifications.pearson.com/...evel-Music-Difficulty-Levels-Booklet.pdf


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
bennevis #3025695 09/16/20 02:26 PM
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Oh my hope just got shattered... It sounds like you've got a good teacher, I remember I only learned some simple songs and some technique books like a dozen a day...

I'm aware that knowing guitar barely helps, but all the reading classes and theory classes can be helpful. I never tried if I could play classic pieces, I only learned some piano comping and modern piano songs from Joe Hisaishi and Yiruma and so on, but I guess they're pretty simple compared to classical pieces.

So are you saying that even if I can practice all the chords, scales, arpeggios and every piece listed on the syllabus, I still HAVE TO have a teacher to guide me?

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025700 09/16/20 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
So are you saying that even if I can practice all the chords, scales, arpeggios and every piece listed on the syllabus, I still HAVE TO have a teacher to guide me?

Essentially, it's not just about practicing the scales and arpeggios, it's also about whether you practice them with the correct technique.

I feel like I'm only able to recognize when I may be not using the proper techniques because I had piano training (with what I think in hindsight was a pretty great teacher) as a kid before I quit. Now, when I run into technique questions, I then have a wife who's advanced enough in piano to bounce ideas off and get the questions answered and demonstrated.

So I personally don't feel like I have a need for a teacher to progress at my current skill/knowledge level.

As much material as there is available online and through method books, I have a hard time imagining anyone having enough self awareness to make proper progress without ever interacting with actual person to get direct feedback and demonstrations.

Depends on your goal though. If you only want to get to an beginner to intermediate level of playing, you can probably do that without a teacher. However, bad habits are then going to be very difficult to correct later on if you do want to go further with a teacher.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025701 09/16/20 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
So are you saying that even if I can practice all the chords, scales, arpeggios and every piece listed on the syllabus, I still HAVE TO have a teacher to guide me?
If you're just playing for fun, for your own amusement, it doesn't matter what you do or how you learn. Most adult self-learners do precisely that. They just play whatever they fancy, and jump from one thing to another.

The problem with self-learning is that you don't know what you don't know. You could be playing Für Elise really badly (there're zillions of truly awful performances on YouTube, but the pianists who put them up probably don't know how badly they played) and you might not know it. If you have a technical problem, like unevenness in timing, articulation or dynamics, or random notes sticking out in a passage, or rhythmic irregularities, would you notice it - and know how to fix it? If you already have a good ear, you might know when you have a problem (especially if you record yourself and listen to the playback), but if you haven't already got a decent standard of piano skills, you might not be able to fix it correctly.

In my experience, you need to already be playing at late-intermediate level to be able to successfully progress to higher levels without a teacher, without developing problems.

The bottom line is - how serious about classical piano are you, and how far do you want to get?

Playing classical piano well is not about practicing chords, scales and pieces from a syllabus - it's being able to play classical pieces not just correctly, but well, with good technique & musicality.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025704 09/16/20 02:53 PM
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You don't have to but it will be much more efficient with a teacher.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
rkzhao #3025716 09/16/20 03:35 PM
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Ok seems like a teacher is indeed necessary.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025717 09/16/20 03:36 PM
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Given your background, a good Classical teacher for at least 4-8 lessons will get you started correctly on a strong foundation, and pointed in the right direction.

And you might find that you want to continue with a teacher.


Piano teacher.
Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025724 09/16/20 03:48 PM
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Thank you everyone. I guess I'd better find a local teacher so that I can get feedback and know what's wrong about my playing immediately. Maybe I'll stick with one for a few years to get the solid foundation.

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025725 09/16/20 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
Most of my friends told me they used Thompson or Faber first, then added some technique books like Hanon and Czerny, and after that they just practiced lots of exam pieces for exams until they got to grade 8. I was wondering if you guys were the same? Because I've had a basic understanding of playing piano like posture, scales and chords, I prefer not to have a teacher. Could you please tell me what books you used when you were learning piano? Thank you in advance!

some people and teachers swear by Hannon & Czerny, but none of my teachers have ever recommended I do any of these exercises and my technique is coming along just fine (currently studying for grade 7 AMEB). The technical exercises for exams (mainly scales & arpeggios) and the actual pieces themselves are good enough in my opinion.

As a complete begginner I started with the Alfred All In One books, but I got bored quite quickly with them. I then switched to just classical pieces using Keith Snell books - Essential Piano Repertoire of the 17th, 18th, & 19th Centuries. Although probably all of this music is freely available, I liked that the books were graded in difficulty, and the CD's versions allowed me to listen to what they were supposed to sound like. I stayed with this series for about three years. Other books I enjoyed were Classics to Modern and The Joy of First Classics by Denes Agay.


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Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
bennevis #3025726 09/16/20 03:58 PM
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I've been working as a guitarist since I graduated and sometimes I get sessions which require sight reading. I'd say my rhythm is adequate but I do see your point. Sometimes fingering frustrates me. I forgot to mention that we needed to finish 5 levels of piano classes (a little over one year) during college, though it's more contemporary oriented, some genres like pop, blues, rock, and jazz for the last level, but no classical. Btw how long did you learn to get to grade 8?

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025741 09/16/20 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
I've been working as a guitarist since I graduated and sometimes I get sessions which require sight reading. I'd say my rhythm is adequate but I do see your point. Sometimes fingering frustrates me. Btw how long did you learn to get to grade 8?
Eight years precisely - one grade a year. (Then two more years to get my performance diploma).

Some people in ABF get fixated on grades and exams (especially those who've never done them, and think that those who do learn and play nothing else.....) yet when I was a kid and doing them, I - and all my fellow music students learning various instruments - were mainly interested in making use of our musical and technical skills to make music in various ways, including playing with others (duets, chamber music etc) and singing the great choral rep in the school choir. (We learnt to sight-sing from developing aural skills).

On average, I spent about two months a year to prepare for the exams - learning the pieces, and scales & arpeggios. Sight-reading was taken care of by my having to sight-read every new piece I was learning in front of my teacher (as well as sight-reading lots of other pieces for fun); aural skills came mainly from singing in the choir, once I'd acquired the basics.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025746 09/16/20 04:44 PM
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I think it took me about 8 years myself to get to grade 8 but I wouldn't say I was accomplished player at that level. My practicing routine was not consistent to. When I was a lad I was limited on practice time as my grandmother was ill and at times I was told not to play the piano.

A friend, who had a grand piano, separate room to practice and practiced at least 1 1/2 hours on average every day if my memory serves me right got to grade level 8 in under 6 years. She ended up quitting piano when she was in late high school. When I saw her 10 years later she said she has no desire to play it again. She was forced by her parents to practice everyday and take the exams. Sad if you ask me.

So, I say who cares, if you want to learn and it takes you fewer or more years. It is the journey that counts and hopefully you will be playing for a lifetime like me. I will never be a great player but I hold my own at worship service and I have played for a few weddings. Now I like to play the synth keyboard for added sounds at worship service instead. Of course now we are not allowed to play because of the pandemic. Only one cantor and one accompanist which is the Music Director.

Anyway hope you stick with it as piano playing can be one of lives great pleasures.


Peace


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
mone8 #3025759 09/16/20 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mone8
So are you saying that even if I can practice all the chords, scales, arpeggios and every piece listed on the syllabus, I still HAVE TO have a teacher to guide me?
It's almost impossible learn technique correctly and well without a good teacher. Learning to play scales, etc. is not just a question of playing them over and over and hoping they'll improve that way.

I'm surprised you don't want to get a teacher for piano because I assume you had one when you studied guitar. Do you think you could have learned guitar as well by yourself?

Re: The traditional route to learning classical piano
pianoloverus #3025807 09/16/20 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
It's almost impossible learn technique correctly and well without a good teacher. Learning to play scales, etc. is not just a question of playing them over and over and hoping they'll improve that way.

Here is a very fresh example, as I just finished my online lesson. When I played my scales, my teacher noted a tiny misalignment today between the two hands. I could not even hear it, but I have good reason to suspect why it is happening and will do as she instructed. Sure, you can play piano and not have a teacher, and sure in the scheme of things, does it matter? I am too old to become as good as I would like to become, but isn't it always about becoming the best you can be?


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