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#3152605 09/03/21 01:09 AM
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Hi everyone,

I'm a beginning music producer who has decided it is time to get serious and start learning to play the keyboard properly, I don't want to be dragging notes around with a mouse to make cords in a daw anymore :-) . After a lot of research I ended up ordering a kawai es920—no easy feat tracking one down since they seem to be out of stock everywhere—and I am very excited to get practicing.

However, I moved to a very small farming town in WA state a few years ago and there are literally no piano teachers within about a 2.5 hour drive from where I am at. So private lessons are out of the picture until I think it would be worth a 5 hour round-trip drive. However, I don't want to pick up any bad habits or playing techniques while I am self-teaching myself. I was wondering if you all had any recommendations on videos I could watch or books I could read that could help me avoid this.

Thanks so much!

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That is a GREAT instrument especially for a beginner, congratulations!

Check out the videos of all of the concert pianists and high level pedagogues on YouTube. They have extremely valuable advice. Graham Fitch is my personal favorite, but there are a number of others who put out exceptionally good videos.

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First of all, can you elaborate on what your goals are? Do you want to use the keyboard only as a tool to help composition or do you want to also play live for an audience? Do you want to improvise? Play by ear? What type of music do you want to play? Unless you're into classical music or you want to play very virtuosic stuff I don't think you need to worry very much about "bad technique".

Most of the people around here follow a classical approach but it might not necessarily be the right approach for what you want to do.

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Hi HBIII,

Welcome to Piano World, and congratulations on a very good instrument!
Learning to play the piano is not so much about avoiding bad technique as it is about learning the correct technique. The best lessons you can get are on Piano Career Academy. There is a very elaborate course for beginners on this site, and you can submit a video of your playing every week in order to get feedback.
For starters, you can learn the correct key attack for free:



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I like Emma's channel. If I could go back and do something differently, I would have learned to play without tension from the beginning, with the idea of loose hands. I really appreciated the video below.



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Emma goes fo a very good job, but I would use those in addition to an actual series of classes such as Piano Career Academy. Graham Fitch does produce great tutorials but I would suggest that you use those for ‘spot’ questions rather than a systematic learning plan

Therefore another thumbs up for Piano Career Academy,

Last edited by dogperson; 09/03/21 09:22 AM.

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I would give PCA a thumbs up too. I've seen a few of her videos, they are good!


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Another thumbs up for PCA! I've learnt more about technique than I ever did from my teacher.

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I think it's almost impossible to avoid bad technique without a teacher. If you can't drive, I suggest you take zoom lessons. It's not as good as F2F but it's much better than nothing. Feedback is crucial. Good luck!


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Thanks so much for the input so far everyone, I will definitely check out PCA!

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
First of all, can you elaborate on what your goals are? Do you want to use the keyboard only as a tool to help composition or do you want to also play live for an audience? Do you want to improvise? Play by ear? What type of music do you want to play? Unless you're into classical music or you want to play very virtuosic stuff I don't think you need to worry very much about "bad technique".

Most of the people around here follow a classical approach but it might not necessarily be the right approach for what you want to do.

I have several goals, the first goal is to help speed up my composition: I don't want to have to stop and think about scales, what the parallel or relative minors are, or have to stop and figure out cord inversion's, secondary dominants, etc., etc., etc. I just want to know and be able to play it all by heart quickly without too much stopping to think and figure everything out. So improvising is very important here. Learning to sight read better would also help me when I am reading through theory books.

I also want to get better at actual playing: it is a lot more expressive and dynamic when you record actual playing then when you sequence everything in a daw. So technique is very important here. And I would love to play some classical pieces I really like as well from some of my favorite composers like satie and debussy etc.

Coronavirus has made life a little difficult now with having to take care of a 3yo on top of regular work, but I would probably be able to squeeze in about 2 or 3 hours a day I can study and practice.

Originally Posted by Ido
I think it's almost impossible to avoid bad technique without a teacher. If you can't drive, I suggest you take zoom lessons. It's not as good as F2F but it's much better than nothing. Feedback is crucial. Good luck!

I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

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At least some Zoom lessons would be a good idea even if they're less frequent than once a week. This is the only way to get immediate feedback that you then can immediately try to apply in the lesson and get additional feedback again on the spot. This doesn't mean I don't think the other videos or courses mentioned above are not valuable. I just think they're less valuable then private lessons.

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Originally Posted by HBIII
I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

These initial 6 months are the most crucial period, where you are most likely to develop bad technique. I would switch the order. I made this mistake and got badly injured. Zoom lessons require no commute. I'd go as far as saying don't even touch the piano before you have a proper lesson. All you'll do is ingrain bad habits with are difficult (and time consuming) to reverse.


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Not sure if you're comfortable learning from an online teacher instead of private lessons without a teacher nearby. An online teacher Tim posts playing tutorials on YouTube regularly under Piano Lesson on the Web:

Piano Lesson on the Web

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Originally Posted by Ido
Originally Posted by HBIII
I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

These initial 6 months are the most crucial period, where you are most likely to develop bad technique. I would switch the order. I made this mistake and got badly injured. Zoom lessons require no commute. I'd go as far as saying don't even touch the piano before you have a proper lesson. All you'll do is ingrain bad habits with are difficult (and time consuming) to reverse.
Originally Posted by Ido
Originally Posted by HBIII
I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

These initial 6 months are the most crucial period, where you are most likely to develop bad technique. I would switch the order. I made this mistake and got badly injured. Zoom lessons require no commute. I'd go as far as saying don't even touch the piano before you have a proper lesson. All you'll do is ingrain bad habits with are difficult (and time consuming) to reverse.
Counterpoint: I was self-taught for five years and faced no problems whatsoever re injury or pain. My advice would be to take the advice of PianoCareer etc and videotape your hand position and compare it with what it should be like. Also, make sure there is no tension in your hands, and while this can take a while to figure out, never power through pain, no matter how slight. I think this is the way to a healthy technique, although you will miss out on some nuances, you should be alright.

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Originally Posted by Ido
Originally Posted by HBIII
I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

These initial 6 months are the most crucial period, where you are most likely to develop bad technique. I would switch the order. I made this mistake and got badly injured. Zoom lessons require no commute. I'd go as far as saying don't even touch the piano before you have a proper lesson. All you'll do is ingrain bad habits with are difficult (and time consuming) to reverse.

Plus one. Or actually, plus trillion. smile


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Originally Posted by ranjit
Counterpoint: I was self-taught for five years and faced no problems whatsoever re injury or pain. My advice would be to take the advice of PianoCareer etc and videotape your hand position and compare it with what it should be like. Also, make sure there is no tension in your hands, and while this can take a while to figure out, never power through pain, no matter how slight. I think this is the way to a healthy technique, although you will miss out on some nuances, you should be alright.
Pain and injury are probably relatively rare. But not playing with optimal or even decent technique is, I think, quite common for those who are self taught even if they follow some online tutorial. It's not even that uncommon for those who take private lessons unless the teacher is excellent and emphasizes technique.There's infinitely more to technique than trying to avoid tension. Unless the OP can't afford it, has no time for, or is just averse to online lessons, I think most would agree that lessons from an excellent teacher are by far the best approach to learning technique and everything else about playing piano.

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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Ido
Originally Posted by HBIII
I might try and do a few lessons (maybe once a month) after I have about 6 months-1 year of practice under my belt. Current circumstances just make it really hard to get away for an entire day.

These initial 6 months are the most crucial period, where you are most likely to develop bad technique. I would switch the order. I made this mistake and got badly injured. Zoom lessons require no commute. I'd go as far as saying don't even touch the piano before you have a proper lesson. All you'll do is ingrain bad habits with are difficult (and time consuming) to reverse.

Plus one. Or actually, plus trillion. smile
+2. Common mistake for beginners is to self-teach first and then go for lessons, with the idea that they will have given themselves a head start. What happens 99% of the time, though, is that the initial self-teaching is poor at some basic skills, and the teacher subsequently has to help the student relearn those skills. That is difficult (I speak from experience) and time-consuming.

I have no experience with PCA; a number of people here give it a thumbs up.

Zoom lessons are not a substitute for face-to-face, but they are adequate and will get you off on the right foot. With the kind of commute you are facing, I'd go the Zoom route. You're not limited to teachers nearby and in fact have the whole world to choose from.


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Wow I wasn't expecting so many people to be recommending zoom lessons. I have never done one and was worried that they wouldn't be nearly as effective as in person lessons... I don't even know how I would set up a camera :-O.

I can't find any credentials for any of the piano teachers I have found 'nearby' (as I said before the closest are about 2-2.5 hour drive away). Would you all say it would be more effective to get lessons from a really good piano teacher via zoom or to get in person lessons from someone with less experience and fewer credentials?

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Originally Posted by HBIII
I can't find any credentials for any of the piano teachers I have found 'nearby' (as I said before the closest are about 2-2.5 hour drive away). Would you all say it would be more effective to get lessons from a really good piano teacher via zoom or to get in person lessons from someone with less experience and fewer credentials?
That's a tricky one. If you have a good ear and observation skills, online lessons with a pro teacher is better than in person lessons with someone not as good.

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Originally Posted by HBIII
Wow I wasn't expecting so many people to be recommending zoom lessons. I have never done one and was worried that they wouldn't be nearly as effective as in person lessons... I don't even know how I would set up a camera :-O.

I can't find any credentials for any of the piano teachers I have found 'nearby' (as I said before the closest are about 2-2.5 hour drive away). Would you all say it would be more effective to get lessons from a really good piano teacher via zoom or to get in person lessons from someone with less experience and fewer credentials?
Search for reviews in the first place. Reviews will tell you much more than experience and credentials.

Technique is unarguably better learnt in person. It's very easy to miss something on a video. There are technical aspects, like 'centering' on keys, for example, which are very hardly seen from a typical camera angle. I'd advise you to take at least a few lessons in person to begin with. Just describe your situation to a teacher and say you want to learn a proper touch and most basic technical things in person. Let alone reading and theory. You need to get the basic physical ideas, after that you may switch to zoom lessons.

On the other hand, if you see that a teacher is not willing to focus on technique, or if his/her technique teaching is way different from what you see on the best internet tutorials, than it's better to switch right away.

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