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#986106 - 08/29/08 12:15 PM Length of Piano Lessons
imperfectimage Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 2
Hello everyone!

I am new to this forum. I had a question regarding the length of training needed for piano. I just recently started going back to college, and one of my requisites for my degree is taking an artistic core for 1 semester. So naturally, I wanted to go into either guitar or piano. Well, I really like the piano more, but from what my friends who have taken piano tell me, I won't be able to learn much in 3 months, or 1 semester. At least not enought to start going off on my own afterwards (I don't have a lot of money for private lessons). Some who have also taken guitar tell me that 3 months, although a bit on the short side, might be enough lessons for me to start training on my own afterwards. Now, I would be in both classes twice a week for 1 hour and 15 minutes. And, since it is a college course, the instructors attention would be divided among 15-30 other students (15 for piano and 20-30 for guitar). I have attended both course and I really like both (although the guitar instructor is a lot more fun, the piano course is more interesting). Which do you recommend I take?

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#986107 - 08/29/08 12:26 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18121
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, imperfectimage. Being that this is a piano forum, you're probably going to get more answers that you should take piano, of course. :p

Actually, I'll recommend something a little bit different: Which instrument would you, in your fondest imagination, like most to learn? Then take that class. It is true that 3 months of a group class isn't going to make you proficient in either instrument. I'm also guessing it's easier to fool around on the guitar on your own. But if you really would rather learn piano, then by all means start with the piano. If you cannot afford lessons afterwards, it *is* possible to self-teach (many of us are doing so).
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#986108 - 08/29/08 01:19 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Keep in mind that a guitar can be carried along with you and you are likely to meet other guitarist in social circumstances - it is fairly easy to learn the guitar - I believe. Look at how it is played, too, being held in front, and the range of it's notes. With guitar, there are plenty of songs which need only 3 chords to play it completely.

Guitars are affordable and so are carrying cases compared to pianos and the weight. It will take longer than 3 months to develop on the keyboard and read and play accurately and be satisfied with your music.

For a fixed one time term of 3 months, I think you will get more milage from the guitar.

If you were going to study for a year on the piano, I would encourage you to make the choice between the instruments. I don't think 3 months will be very satisfying on the piano.

And, you said the guitar teacher is more fun, isn't that a bonus!


#986109 - 08/29/08 02:29 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 14179
Loc: Canada
The guitar is highly tactile and personal, in comparison to the piano. You feel the strings vibrate, their texture, and the vibration of the body as you play.

There are many kinds of guitar playing. I play classical and the music can be complex rhythmically and sophisticated. You can have fugal passages going with several voices and textures. I used to play the full pianistic Fuer Elise on guitar when I no longer had a piano.

My son learned a style that has a bass rhythm, a melody, and a syncopated percussion. On electric guitar he was able to create fugal passages because of the memory it held, and also create a wild assortment of musical textures.

Playing chords is also a way to play the guitar, and is satisfying if you sing, or want to accompany others.

The hand needs strengthing on the guitar, especially the fingers, and it takes time to build up callouses. It is a very satisfying instrument. ........ So is the piano. \:\)

Along with Monika - following your feelings might be a good way to go. In the long run it doesn't have to either-or.

... And now I see the question is more about the length of lessons. :rolleyes:

#986110 - 08/29/08 02:44 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6363
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
My experience is like Monica's and keystring's here, and my variant is that when I started back to piano I played "3-chords in the key of D" style, which is exactly parallel to the strum-the-chords method of playing guitar. I also play with a jam session (and an inexpensive keyboard will work for that) so I get the social part, too. So it seems to me both instruments can be approached in whatever depth you'd like, and can be started in whatever style you'd like. Whatever you learn on one can help as you learn the other (I learned piano chords by figuring out what notes I was playing on my guitar for that chord).

It would be worth finding out if the guitar course teaches individual notes and how to read music or if it is strictly "here's the way to finger the G chord" along with strumming and picking patterns. Different courses are structured differently. If it teaches individual notes and how to read music then you wouldn't be "missing out" on that part by taking guitar instead of piano. I got both when I first played guitar.

But in the end, weigh up the options and go with your gut \:D


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#986111 - 08/29/08 02:59 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
Welcome to the forum Imperfectimage.

As someone who plays both guitar and piano, I would suggest piano. The fact is you can't learn either one in 3 months, but on the piano you'll learn foundations of musical theory that will help you on any musical path. While it's true you would learn some theory on guitar, the way the notes are laid out on the piano, encompassing the grand staff, and showing major and minor scale intervals literally in black and white, make the concepts much clearer.

On the guitar you would probably just learn 2 octaves of the treble clef and a handful of chords, which you'd spend most of your time trying to keep from buzzing and muffling.

I played "couch" guitar for 30 years without even knowing about the circle of 5ths, or scales intervals, or how to read real music (as opposed to tab), and only began learning those things two years ago when I started piano (which BTW caused my guitar playing to improve as well).

A foundation in piano will help you more with guitar than guitar will help you with piano, in case you change your mind later.

Besides, you said you like piano more, so that's what you should take! LOL either way. \:\)

#986112 - 08/29/08 04:41 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
ChristinaW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/05/04
Posts: 153
Loc: Washington DC
Maybe it depends on what the goal is. I've never heard of that kind of requirement except for people majoring in some kind of musical performance. My niece, for example, was a voice major and so had to learn to play piano to some competence (which wasn't much, maybe a year). She didn't want to spend the time practicing the piano so switched majors to arts management instead of performance.

So, if you are a voice major or sing, the piano can come in very handy when you need to play some sheet music or for practice.

However, if you have no intention of taking any more music lessons, I would go with the guitar, if yo like it. You can carry it around, play it for others, etc., and it's a whole lot cheaper, and you can learn more on your own, I think. What is the point of learning the piano if you don't intend to ever take lessons again and then definitely are not going to buy a piano, they are very expensive.

I just don't understand the point of taking piano lessons if you don't own a piano. How would you practice? I know some schools have practice rooms, but if that's the only way you can practice, that's another reason the guitar will be easier. If you don't have any money, would you even be able to buy a moderately decent keyboard? I think they are several hundred dollars. Of course, if you really want to learn the piano, you definitely should choose that one, regardless.

My piano teacher told me some stories that were hard for me to believe about some of her new students -- she said one guy (an adult beginner) was shocked that he would have to practice a lot at home to learn how to play piano and improve. For some reason, he thought all he had to do was show up in class a half hour a week and he'd learn to play the piano that way.

#986113 - 08/29/08 06:10 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Play and learn what you love.

In the grand scheme of things, a few months of learning either will be a drop in the bucket, compared to a lifetime with the instrument (if that is your choosing).

Don't allow short term goals to determine your long-term direction. The not having a lot of money part is only temporary and will eventually correct itself.

Your heart will tell you what to do, if you have a love of music.

If you just want the college credit and there 'is' no long-term afterward, guitar seems like the choice that would get your further. I play a little of both, which is a nice way of saying I suck at both, but I think piano is far more difficult (but love it much more), comparatively speaking.

#986114 - 08/29/08 06:33 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
guitar is probably the easier one to learn on your own than piano, and therefore, stick to piano lessons, even just for 3 months. many people take beginning piano classes later would also find a private teacher to continue it, which means that piano takes much longer to master or even play decently.

#986115 - 08/29/08 06:52 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
imperfectimage Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 2
Thanks everyone! \:\) I decided to go with guitar. It was a hard decision, but I felt it would be easier to learn the guitar in 3 months compared to the piano. I really find the piano more impressive compared to the guitar. However, since I already bought a guitar a while back, I decided to make use of it. Hopefully, I will get a chance to learn the piano too in the near future. Oh yeah, @ Christina, I do own a piano too. My mother bought it a while back hoping my sisters and I would learn how to play it. We were all around 6-8 years of age, and we all know how little kids are when it comes to learning something, especially a little boy and piano. Anyways, again, thank you everyone. On a different subject, is it possible to learn piano on my own? o.O haha

#986116 - 08/29/08 09:31 PM Re: Length of Piano Lessons
Philip Yeoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/30/08
Posts: 73
Loc: Penang, Malaysia
Originally posted by imperfectimage:
On a different subject, is it possible to learn piano on my own? o.O haha [/b]
Have a look at my website, imperfectimage ;\)


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