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Joined: Sep 2021
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Hello everyone.

I'm 24 year old and have been playing Casio CTK-2400 (61-key, no touch sensitivity $80 keyboard) from the last 2-3 years and recently upgraded to Korg LP-380U (88-key, fully weighted $800 digital piano).

I learnt songs using Youtube synthesia videos and didn't develop Touch sensitivity nor do I know how to read sheet music. I wanted some advice regarding whether I should continue progressing the same way or should start with Alfred's Piano Book 1.

Just to give everyone an idea of my level, here are some songs that I know how to play well (with pedal but without touch sensitivity)

1. Canon in D
2. Nuvole Bianche (Ludovico Einaudi)
3. River Flows in You (Yiruma)
4. Fur Elise (without the advanced part)
5. Moonlight Sonata (first 2 mins)
6. He's a pirate (Pirates of the Caribbean)
7. Faded (Alan Walker)
8. Interstellar theme
9. Harry Potter theme
10. Nocturne in C Sharp Minor(no. 20) first 2 mins
11. Nocturne Op 9 no. 2 (easy version) first 2 mins

I have been practicing volume control between hands and trills (basically all the things that I couldn't do on my No touch sensitivity keyboard before).

So, what I'm trying to ask is that whether I should just keep on going and learn new songs in a similar fashion (from youtube synthesia videos) and develop the necessary piano skills along the way OR should I start learning using Alfred's Piano Book 1 (and learn to read sheet music) and start from ground up.

P.S. I'm a Software Engineer and playing Piano is a hobby that I love very much.


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Hello Ring Slinger,

I'm sure that more senior people will join in the conversation, but my gut feeling on reading your message is that you very much enjoy playing the piano, and want to make better progress – therefore you would be well-advised to learn from the ground up with reading and proper technique (that doesn't show in a very nuanced way on YouTube videos).

You will probably find that even the pieces you already know just get better when you go back over them once you've started learning to read music more systematically… But of course, I would also say, if you want to learn as best as you can from the ground up, why not have a teacher? The reason I took lessons with an excellent teacher from the start is because I'm hoping that a few years down the line, I'm not one of those players who can more or less play a few popular tunes without any real finesse… It's easy to not stretch yourself or fall into bad technique when you just jump from YT video to YT video, I find.

But that's only my own, very personal impression. I read between your lines that you already know what you want to do though!

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Hi Ring Slinger!

Originally Posted by Ring Slinger
playing Piano is a hobby that I love very much

That is the same for me! Playing the piano is wonderful.

Originally Posted by Ring Slinger
So, what I'm trying to ask is that whether I should just keep on going and learn new songs in a similar fashion (from youtube synthesia videos) and develop the necessary piano skills along the way OR should I start learning using Alfred's Piano Book 1 (and learn to read sheet music) and start from ground up.

I don't think that you will develop the necessary piano skills by learning from youtube synthesia videos. Yes, I think it would be very good to start from ground up. As a software engineer, it should not be too hard for you to find a free website that teaches you how to read music. It is not complicated. However, what is much more difficult, is learning piano technique. For that, I would recommend you a teacher - one that you visit, or a skype teacher, or a video teacher. But someone who can show you how to play.


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Thanks a lot for the advice RosemaryGirl.

I totally agree that it's pretty easy to develop a bad technique by hopping between YT videos and that one needs a good teacher for developing a good technique. smile


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Thank you so much for the advice Animisha.

I will definitely try to find a good teacher now that I have a proper digital piano.
Eagerly awaiting what others have to say.


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Just to echo Animisha, feedback is very important. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s important to have someone who can point these things out. Also as a beginner, it’s important to have someone who can guide you through. When is it best to move on to a new piece? When do you need to continue to work on a piece because you haven’t gotten the things out of it that will be beneficial for future pieces? And reading music will open many more doors for you.

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Originally Posted by Sgisela
Just to echo Animisha, feedback is very important. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s important to have someone who can point these things out. Also as a beginner, it’s important to have someone who can guide you through. When is it best to move on to a new piece? When do you need to continue to work on a piece because you haven’t gotten the things out of it that will be beneficial for future pieces? And reading music will open many more doors for you.

+1.

You may have a lot to un-learn. Software engineering only needs a mental skillset. Playing piano is partly mental, partly physical. only


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My suggestion would be to figure out quite specifically, what it is that you want to achieve. We may all more or less casually say that we want to learn to play the piano better, but this may actually mean very different things to different people. For example, wanting to become so skilled that you could play concertos with an orchestra is a rather different aim than wanting simply to sit at home enjoying the music that comes out from under your fingers. Learning to play Liszt is different from learning to play Fats Waller. Being able to play anything from sheet music is unlike being able to play from memory. Etc.


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You will be much happier if you learn to read music - it will open up a world of possibilities to you. I have a good friend who is a natural musician. He plays wonderfully by ear - blues, original compositions, boogie woogie. He does not read music or use videos - he can come up with his own version, in his own style, simply by hearing something. If you don't have the ability to do that (and few of us do), then reading music is your gateway to the fascinating world of piano music.

Sam


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I will echo what others said. Getting a teacher to build the basics is the way to go.

Synthesia will set you back in the long term as you will only learn to copy hand movements without really understanding the underlying musical structures and rhythm. It's like learning to recite a speech in a foreign language you don't understand. Or, since you're a software engineer, like copy-pasting code you don't understand. wink

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I will echo what other posters have said. You need to figure out what your goals are at the piano. Do you want to study on your own, are you ok with a teacher, do you want to play by ear, do you want to read music, what styles do you want to play, etc.

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At the bare minimum I would suggest learning to read music. You need to know your way around the music page and it’s not too difficult to learn.

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I’m responding as a new beginner, so won’t be much help but I’ve decided to focus on fundamentals (reading music, ear training, etc.); however, many wonderful pianists can play just by ear. Surprisingly, even Paul McCartney can’t read music, so it is clearly a good path for some!

On the other hand, what is the real upside? Music literacy— and reading music— will open a wonderful world and allow you to learn more quickly.

A teacher is the best route for nearly everyone.

No other approach will help you as much with everything from posture, safe practice re: hands and warm-ups, and of course, musicality (dynamics, color, etc.), as well as get you to where you are going as quickly as possible, at whatever level you are playing.

That said, the apps and software have really improved and some are really wonderful and, in some ways, serving as terrific supplements to in-person lessons and even stand-alone resources. They cost money for annual or monthly memberships (sorry!), but I have found them very useful.

The “instant feedback” on timing is especially helpful for this new beginner.

Here are two options you may want to look into:

1/ Piano Marvel

You likely know this already but one of the most popular choices is Piano Marvel— there’s an active thread here— and it includes method, technique, and sight-reading paths, as well as a full library (including the Alfred All-In-One-Books, the BachScholar “Sight Reading and Harmony”, Hanon, and other learning resources, along with songs). I am a member to have access to those resources.

2/ Playground Sessions

That said, I didn’t love the PM user interface and started with Quincy Jones’ “Playground Sessions”. I’ve completed the 93 rookie lessons, some sight-reading and scales courses, just started on the intermediate lessons and have enjoyed the path so far. I don’t think many people here use PGS but it’s just the right fit for me.

Both have active Facebook communities and a group of users that are amazingly friendly, helpful, and engaged.

Good luck with your practice— and your new digital piano! A lot of fun is ahead!

Last edited by mtb; 01/20/22 02:36 PM.

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I started without a teacher and learned a few intermediate Classical pieces on my own. After a few years I got a teacher and started learning pieces from Jazz & Blues book along with easy Classical pieces.

In my school days I learned violin so reading the treble clef and learning the bass was not an issue. Reading a new piece and playing at full speed is a challenge. Most people would spend a few days or weeks learning the notes and then a few more days to get the piece up to speed. There is a learning curve for each piece. It'd take years and daily practice to be able to read well.

Here is a recent video from Robert Estrin on practice tips:

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So happy to hear you discover the joy of piano.

Echoing a few points:

1. Playing by ear or video game concept is great, but it limits you ultimately.
2. Many great artists, jazz, pop for eg all started life learning classical and yes, learnt music theory up to a point
3. Getting into good habits is kinda essential imho. A teacher is worth investing in

I started self teaching via Alfred. It gets you so far, and I was making a lot of mistakes that I didn’t realize I was making…it’s one thing to understand the ‘theory’, but whole other game to play it.

No one approach fits all. Learning to play piano ismt like guitar hero. Learning to read music is something many electric guitarists regret they never invested time in…whilst you are young….invest some time in reading music..you probably won’t regret it.

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Thanks a lot everyone for your opinions and advice.

After reading all the comments, I definitely feel that learning to read music will be very rewarding and that if one's basics are strong, then the road ahead is full of possibilities. I will keep posting about my progress and talk to this wonderful community.

P.S. @QuasiUnaFantasia At the moment my inclination is towards "sit at home enjoying the music that comes out from under your fingers". But who knows what the future has to offer. Maybe 10 years down the line I feel it changing but that's a different story smile


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