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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!
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
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.
"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.
Thank you. What technique books are you using?
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?
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....
Quote
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
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?
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.
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.
You don't have to but it will be much more efficient with a teacher.
Ok seems like a teacher is indeed necessary.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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
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?
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?
As such, I haven't learned piano from traditional lessons. I have been self-teaching piano since five years, but I've taken a few lessons since a few months. My current teacher reckons that I've actually taught myself an unusual amount, but have certain atypical strengths and weaknesses.

You may want to take a look at what I posted in the following thread: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...to-a-new-adult-beginner.html#Post3010526

Originally Posted by mone8
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.

In some ways, I find that our experiences may be similar. I can arrange most pop songs pretty quickly, within 15 minutes or so. I have basically done the equivalent of first semester harmony which I learned from an online course on Coursera, as well as just generally making a note of the theory behind the compositions I played. While I do not play the guitar, I learned piano largely by arranging songs I knew, or learning other people's arrangements. I would play any song that I could think of, or that a friend would request, as quickly as possible. Then, I would try and make use of several arranging techniques, some of which were quite difficult. I learned 3-4 classical pieces in the meanwhile, but must have improvised for hundreds of hours, and come up with rudimentary arrangements of hundreds of songs, which I would then improvise over. That lead to developing a facility with techniques such as octaves and fast arpeggios in various configurations, honestly quite beyond what a grade 8 student would be expected to play. Now that I'm learning classical piano, I basically started out at a pretty high level in a number of respects.

Regarding method books -- most of the teachers I respect online do not quite follow method books. They are useful inasmuch as they can be used to narrow down on weaknesses and provide some sort of structure to one's learning. I think what is probably more important is to play a number of pieces, maybe learning one every week or two, and trying to get as good as you can with those. I believe that plain old exercises are less useful for adults, as opposed to simply playing a number of pieces and getting used to the techniques in context. I have found scales and arpeggios to be useful, and knowledge of how to move the hand efficiently. As an adult, you're probably not as good as a child at mimicking other people's movements. So it's a good idea to also be aware at an intellectual level about efficient hand motions and how they work. Check out Graham Fitch, Josh Wright, and cedarvillemusic on Youtube if you haven't already. You should aim to be acutely aware of tension in the hand. Method books as such aren't useful beyond achieving a basic understanding of technique, since so much involves really subtle hand movements, which are difficult to communicate and can easily be misinterpreted over text. More than doing the exercises, imo, it is important to note how you're doing them. Your hands should feel really light, and the motions should feel effortless. It doesn't matter whether or not you do exercises if you achieve those ends through other means, such as by playing a wide range of repertoire.

Actively listen (and by this I mean really listen to the minutiae) to a LOT of classical music, maybe about an hour a day at the starting. Hopefully, you do enjoy listening to classical music, since you're attempting to learn it. You want to gain an instinctive understanding of the idiom as far as possible. Listen to pieces multiple times and try to understand what really makes them special. Listen to the great concert pianists, make a note of their differences, find out what things you like, whether there is someone who really appeals to you, etc. Eventually, you will gain a better instinctive picture of the landscape.

It is possible to achieve a pretty decent level on your own, so don't necessarily worry about that. It helps if you have time on your hands. In the first few months, I was playing the piano/keyboard for several hours a day, obsessively trying to play pieces I enjoyed (while driving my roommates mad!). It paid off; however, if you have a really hectic job or something where you only have half an hour each day to spend, it might be a good idea to get a teacher, because you can then offload all of the planning onto them in some sense. In that case, make sure to get the very best one you can and be really picky, because a bad teacher is worse than no teacher. If you have high aspirations such as wanting to play Chopin etudes at a high level, regardless of how talented you are, I think it's a good idea to get a teacher on balance. I have yet to come across a self-taught student who managed to play them well.

Good luck.
Got another question about hand coordination. What makes classic pieces hard to me is hand coordination. To me pop is much easier since most of the time what you do is just comping, and adding some fills. My girlfriend is a classical trained piano player started at 5, any sheet I show her, she can play it right away without struggling with sight reading and hand coordination. I asked her how that happened she told me she just practiced and it came natural, but she has no idea how to make me do that like what to practice or what books would help.

So how did you guys do that? Are there any books specifically focused on practicing coordination, or if you play enough classical pieces, it'll become natural, since you've basically practiced almost any required coordination that could happen?
Thank you so much for your detailed answer!
Originally Posted by mone8
Got another question about hand coordination. What makes classic pieces hard to me is hand coordination. To me pop is much easier since most of the time what you do is just comping, and adding some fills. My girlfriend is a classical trained piano player started at 5, any sheet I show her, she can play it right away without struggling with sight reading and hand coordination. I asked her how that happened she told me she just practiced and it came natural, but she has no idea how to make me do that like what to practice or what books would help.

So how did you guys do that? Are there any books specifically focused on practicing coordination, or if you play enough classical pieces, it'll become natural, since you've basically practiced almost any required coordination that could happen?

The answer is simple and frustrating: It takes time - which is not the same as "it happens natural". It goes back to the point that there isn't really any shortcuts in learning to play piano (playing piano period, not just classical vs anything else). Your brain needs to build those pathways that help in coordination, it's a gradual process and it helps to have effective practice. Enjoying the process is helpful too, because if you do something that you enjoy - you will repeat it more times smile.
If you practice classical pieces, it becomes easier, eventually. You have to start with easier pieces, get the hang of them, and then work on progressively harder pieces.

I’ve just finished RCM level 1 and the most difficult pieces for me in the level were the baroque and classical pieces. Contemporary pieces I was able to learn in an hour; some of the baroque and classical pieces took me weeks and weeks to get under my fingers. There just was no fast way for me with those pieces.
Originally Posted by initK
Originally Posted by mone8
Got another question about hand coordination. What makes classic pieces hard to me is hand coordination. To me pop is much easier since most of the time what you do is just comping, and adding some fills. My girlfriend is a classical trained piano player started at 5, any sheet I show her, she can play it right away without struggling with sight reading and hand coordination. I asked her how that happened she told me she just practiced and it came natural, but she has no idea how to make me do that like what to practice or what books would help.

So how did you guys do that? Are there any books specifically focused on practicing coordination, or if you play enough classical pieces, it'll become natural, since you've basically practiced almost any required coordination that could happen?

The answer is simple and frustrating: It takes time - which is not the same as "it happens natural". It goes back to the point that there isn't really any shortcuts in learning to play piano (playing piano period, not just classical vs anything else). Your brain needs to build those pathways that help in coordination, it's a gradual process and it helps to have effective practice. Enjoying the process is helpful too, because if you do something that you enjoy - you will repeat it more times smile.

+1

Exactly. How long has your girlfriend been playing the piano? I'd say at least 15 years right? Well, if you practice reading new music every day for 15 years you're also going to get really good at it and it's going to be natural. Unfortunately, there isn't really any shortcut.
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
If you practice classical pieces, it becomes easier, eventually. You have to start with easier pieces, get the hang of them, and then work on progressively harder pieces.

I’ve just finished RCM level 1 and the most difficult pieces for me in the level were the baroque and classical pieces. Contemporary pieces I was able to learn in an hour; some of the baroque and classical pieces took me weeks and weeks to get under my fingers. There just was no fast way for me with those pieces.

Here's one resource that can help you with hand coordination:
https://imslp.org/wiki/200_Short_Two-Part_Canons%2C_Op.14_(Kunz%2C_Konrad_Max)

These are simple canons - i.e. pieces that have two voices that play the same thing but shifted by a few beats. Reading those is kind of like reading a baroque piece with 2 contrapuntal lines except these are much simpler and they repeat so there isn't really much to memorise. There are 200 of them going from extremely easy to something similar in difficulty to the baroque minuets.
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Here's one resource that can help you with hand coordination:
https://imslp.org/wiki/200_Short_Two-Part_Canons%2C_Op.14_(Kunz%2C_Konrad_Max)

These are simple canons - i.e. pieces that have two voices that play the same thing but shifted by a few beats. Reading those is kind of like reading a baroque piece with 2 contrapuntal lines except these are much simpler and they repeat so there isn't really much to memorise. There are 200 of them going from extremely easy to something similar in difficulty to the baroque minuets.

This looks very interesting! Thank you for the link!
Originally Posted by mone8
Got another question about hand coordination. What makes classic pieces hard to me is hand coordination. To me pop is much easier since most of the time what you do is just comping, and adding some fills. My girlfriend is a classical trained piano player started at 5, any sheet I show her, she can play it right away without struggling with sight reading and hand coordination. I asked her how that happened she told me she just practiced and it came natural, but she has no idea how to make me do that like what to practice or what books would help.

So how did you guys do that? Are there any books specifically focused on practicing coordination, or if you play enough classical pieces, it'll become natural, since you've basically practiced almost any required coordination that could happen?
Those who learnt classical as kids have it easy - they just took things as they came, learnt stuff little by little, and as slowly as necessary (and as required by their teachers) and weren't sidetracked by extraneous non-classical stuff.........like comping, adding fills, theoretical stuff that wasn't necessary nor complimentary to their practical learning. And most of all, they didn't have any expectations of how quickly they "should" progress.

That was the way I learnt as a kid - I never put pressure on myself to "achieve" any particular skill in any specific time period, because......well, I knew nothing except what my teacher was teaching me, and as I was going the classical route following the ABRSM syllabus all the way (like all other music students in my home country, and subsequently in the UK), she made sure I learnt all the necessary skills at every stage of my learning, selecting all the pieces for me that developed those skills. And lots and lots of "revision", with many pieces requiring the techniques just learnt, but in completely different contexts.

Classical requires that you develop complete hand independence fairly early on (and reading simultaneously from both clefs), followed soon after by complete finger independence. And what you can play with your RH, you must also be able to play with your LH - because classical music requires it. That's why you'll find that those going the classical route start by learning to play single notes first in one hand, then the other (often very similar notes but in a different register), back and forth, followed soon after by single notes in each hand but playing hands together. Chords aren't taught until the student has learnt to coordinate single notes in each hand, with hands playing together.

This is quite different from most adult beginner books that aim to get the student playing 'interesting' pieces right from the start (because adults would get bored otherwise.....) - usually melody RH and chords LH - even before the student has developed any semblance of hand independence, let alone finger independence. Hardly surprising that the student often lags badly behind on the basic piano skills required to play classical, which involves coordinating different notes in each hand, with both hands playing equally complicated stuff.

That's why I'd never use such books with my students - and I don't teach pop, even though I do play it (and have done since I was a kid). Not to mention that adult primers rush through basic stuff far too quickly too.

As others have said, there is no shortcut. You need a lot of time to develop the neural connections - and time spent wisely on practicing correctly, using the right materials (pieces). The Denes Agay books I mentioned previously contain lots of classical pieces (at levels from grade 1 - 4) that will help with developing those skills.
Originally Posted by mone8
Got another question about hand coordination. What makes classic pieces hard to me is hand coordination. To me pop is much easier since most of the time what you do is just comping, and adding some fills. My girlfriend is a classical trained piano player started at 5, any sheet I show her, she can play it right away without struggling with sight reading and hand coordination. I asked her how that happened she told me she just practiced and it came natural, but she has no idea how to make me do that like what to practice or what books would help.
Pop is easier, especially when you are just comping. Unfortunately the only real answer is practice. There are definitely ways in which you can get there quicker and more effectively than others, but you're likely going to take a few years even under the best circumstances. If you want to learn how to sight read, my suggestion would be to do a search here and on Pianostreet, and then try and implement the advice. I have heard good things about a book called Super Sight reading Secrets.

It doesn't have to mean that you will also need 15 years to get there, but you certainly won't be able to magically sight read after a week. It's not "natural" in that sense. However, you should feel some amount of progress over the span of a few weeks; if you feel you're still stuck at the same spot, you might be doing something wrong. I guess you could also ask your girlfriend for help by asking her how she does it, but be more precise in your questions. So, for example, you could ask her where exactly her eyes are looking when playing a measure. Is she observing scale or arpeggio patterns, or some common chord progression? How does she play without looking down at her hands -- did she have it all along, or did she learn it along the way?
Ranjit
No one starts piano with the ability of reading the score and not staring at your hands. Your dependence on staring at your hands diminishes over time and playing as you develop proprioception. You learn to sight read by reading a lot of music below your normal level.

As your general skills and knowledge increase, that knowledge will be incorporated into your sightreading.
I fell in to classical music while I was well off the path of the traditional route. There are some draw backs. For one thing, I've never become a particularly strong reader and will never likely become a great site reader.

After 1 year of formal lessons when I was young, around age 10 I think, I retired from classical lessons and went right to the interesting stuff my Dad taught me. He was a professional entertainer, teacher and had his own jazz trio. He taught me about chords and mostly Pop tunes that he scored as lead sheets for me and his other pupils. Unfortunately, he passed young and we never got really far with theory.

Years later I tripped upon this site and before I knew it I was deep in classical analysis and heaps of theory that came with it. Still I hadn't tried reading a 2 ledger staff in over 40 years. Nonetheless, that is when I started, with a couple pieces we were working on at the time. I worked hard on 2 little preludes of Bach and had them recorded for the next recital. That was getting close to 10 years ago now.

I haven't felt the transition to playing more classical particularly difficult. Slow, because of my slow reading, but coming along fine. Also, the material. Sure, some is harder, but not all of it is. You can do some quite sophisticated non-classical arrangements too. We did, and I still do. They are professional arrangements though. I know that since my Dad scored them and he was a professional and these are scores from his live act.

It will be good to help keep my marbles in a row as I get older. I can always work more on my site reading. I'm not completely self taught as my Dad really was the one that got me motivated and taught me to a point I could keep going. Just, I've never had a classical lesson since I've started doing more classical. I don't use books either. Just this site and the score I decide to pick up and learn next. It's all music to me and whether or not I wish to try and tackle it. I have way more opportunity for learning more material and still do non-classical things too. l can't say I have a preference for a single genre. If I like the tune, I am quite sure I will like learning the tune.

So far, feed back has been very encouraging.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Ranjit
No one starts piano with the ability of reading the score and not staring at your hands. Your dependence on staring at your hands diminishes over time and playing as you develop proprioception. You learn to sight read by reading a lot of music below your normal level.

As your general skills and knowledge increase, that knowledge will be incorporated into your sightreading.

I agree. I don't understand why you addressed this to me specifically, though.
Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by dogperson
Ranjit
No one starts piano with the ability of reading the score and not staring at your hands. Your dependence on staring at your hands diminishes over time and playing as you develop proprioception. You learn to sight read by reading a lot of music below your normal level.

As your general skills and knowledge increase, that knowledge will be incorporated into your sightreading.

I agree. I don't understand why you addressed this to me specifically, though.

This was part of your lest post which prompted this reply:

How does she play without looking down at her hands -- did she have it all along, or did she learn it along the way?
I don't think Ranjit was asking that question directly. Rather, he was suggesting the kind of questions which op could pose to his gf/teacher which could further his own learning.
Originally Posted by dorfmouse
I don't think Ranjit was asking that question directly. Rather, he was suggesting the kind of questions which op could pose to his gf/teacher which could further his own learning.

Yes, I understand that these were potential questions to be posed to a girlfriend-Pianist. But this particular question does not facilitate learning about the process of reading the score, as no one is born with this capability. It is always ‘learned along the way’.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by dorfmouse
I don't think Ranjit was asking that question directly. Rather, he was suggesting the kind of questions which op could pose to his gf/teacher which could further his own learning.

Yes, I understand that these were potential questions to be posed to a girlfriend-Pianist. But this particular question does not facilitate learning about the process of reading the score, as no one is born with this capability. It is always ‘learned along the way’.
Aren't all abilities learned along the way? However, I am sure even the development of proprioception can be accelerated using various strategies. Of the top of my head, you can visualise playing the piano away from the instrument, play blind, place a piece of cardboard on top of your fingers, play on the top of the keys without depressing them, etc. An experienced pianist may have a better idea of what strategies work better.

Looking back, I realise what caused the confusion -- "Did she have it all along" wasn't meant to be taken quite literally. It was more of -- did she just instinctively learn it over the years during early childhood by reading a lot, or was there more active effort involved.
Opinions on ways to learn: playing away from piano not effective as you have no way to check the interval distance. Play on top of keys does not increase body awareness of distance. Cardboard to mask notes: this has been used by some teachers. Mine did not.

Mainly, it is the dedication to focus on the score PLUS reading a lot of music PLUS time. IMHO there should be more focus on playing a lot of music rather than hrs of Hanon.


A few years ago, my teacher showed me an exercise to increase proprioception for multi-octave jumps. Without looking, jump to where you think the notes/chord are. Check. Repeat. The accuracy and reliability will increase with the effort. Eventually, you will just need a glance and the timing of the leap will be quicker. Worked for me.
Originally Posted by dogperson
A few years ago, my teacher showed me an exercise to increase proprioception for multi-octave jumps. Without looking, jump to where you think the notes/chord are. Check. Repeat. The accuracy and reliability will increase with the effort. Eventually, you will just need a glance and the timing of the leap will be quicker. Worked for me.
Interesting. I think jumps were always one of the things I was good at. While improvising, I've always had a number of ideas which involved jumping around. One was the flick of the wrist of the right hand to quickly land on a high C, often without looking (Art Tatum does this a lot in order to get an idea of what I mean). While I can't jump without looking, usually a slight glance is enough regardless of distance, unless the jumps are at an inhuman speed.

The way I conceptualize it is slightly different. With a glance at the piano, it's a very strong short term memory thing. You glance at a point on the piano where you would position one of your fingers (the rest of them should fall into place automatically according to the shape of the chord etc.). Then for a split second you have that location strongly in your short term memory. It is similar to how, if you look at an object and then look away, you can still "see" the object for a fraction of a second. Then you position your hands at that point.

Also, I think you get a certain intuitive feeling in your hands for the distance. Your hand moves a certain way and a certain distance. It is of course proprioception, but there should be a better way to articulate it. The recognition of different intervals and the feeling for the hand motion is perhaps analogous to how your tongue feels when you speak in a different language. If you can "place" that feeling and summon it at will, you will gain mastery over jumping that distance in that way, but this is of course much easier said than done.
I think ranjit it is a common way to visualise the piano is with touch. I always was a score reader and never was someone who memorised anything. I thought without eyes I would not be able to play at all. I suppose it came with many years but the problem was with jumps as I get lost. I think with the big jumps we we would glance from the score and to the keys and then back to the score so without this ability it is very hard. I found an interesting youtube from a blind pianist and he practices for hours jumps to get them so this is where I found glancing at the piano back and from the score very useful. It is very interesting how much is not due to vision as I can play a lot of sections of pieces with eyes closed but normally a jump or lack of memory is the problem preventing only using this ability for me.
Originally Posted by ranjit
However, I am sure even the development of proprioception can be accelerated using various strategies. Of the top of my head, you can visualise playing the piano away from the instrument, play blind, place a piece of cardboard on top of your fingers, play on the top of the keys without depressing them, etc. An experienced pianist may have a better idea of what strategies work better.
I don't think the strategies you listed work well or are used with any frequency by experienced pianists. The ability to play without having to look at the keyboard all the time develops gradually in most pianists over the years. It's only necessary when playing from the score. The really important skill to learn is how to glance at the keyboard and then be able to find one's place back in the score. Virtually all good pianists look quickly at the keyboard sometimes when playing with the score.
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