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I Tivo'ed a show, I think off of PBS, I think called "Learn Piano in a Flash," or something like that...

Watched 20 mins. of it and was pretty impressed with the rationale of "popular" versus classical training. Anyone see this and have comments? It would seem quite controvertial, but again, I'm "just" an adult beginner...
So for those of us who won't be able to see it, would you be willing to give a brief description of the rationale for popular versus classical training? I'm curious.
Posted By: markb Re: PBS' "Learn Piano in a Flash" -- Comments? - 02/06/05 09:35 AM
If this is Scott Houston, his program has been discussed here at least a few times. Try searching for him. He has his supporters and detractors, but it seems to me that the value of his method depends largely on what your piano goals are. He also has a Web site that you can Google.
Posted By: signa Re: PBS' "Learn Piano in a Flash" -- Comments? - 02/06/05 02:22 PM
his method is pretty much directed towards a total beginner who cannot even read music. if you can read music, you wouldn't want to bother with it. personally, i find it boring.
I watched him once and turned the program off after just a few minutes. I don't like his methods although I'm sure he has many followers. At least he is honest by saying that if your interests are classical, his methods are not for you. I agree with signa.
I agree that this is directed towards beginners. The main thing I would say in it's favor is, if you are interested in a play-by-ear, just play for fun, non-classical approach, this course can inspire you to give it a try and have fun with it. (I don't play classical myself, so I guess I'm less negative about it.)

Actually, Scott, I have Scott Houston's book, and you appear to live about twenty miles from me. If you want to PM me a mailing address, I'll send it to you. After you've looked at it, you can send it to the next person who asks about this on this forum.

Posted By: Nina Re: PBS' "Learn Piano in a Flash" -- Comments? - 02/06/05 04:15 PM
It's not bad, but very very limited. Basically, it teaches you how to "doodle around" on the piano. If you want to play an actual song, you'll still need to pick it out by ear or get a fake book.

I think it's actually not a bad way to start if you primarily interested in playing popular music, showtunes, etc. It's just another way of learning chords, broken chords and arpeggios. The drawback I've seen is that when you're done, everything you play will sound the same... that is, the same left-hand accompaniment.

When that happens, it's time to learn your chords, get a fake book and get creative with new and different ways to accompany the tune.

It is absolutely *not* helpful for learning to play classical music, though. Won't hurt, but won't help any more than any more traditional classical teaching method.

My 2c!

My feeling about Scott Houston is that he's basically the "Richard Simmons" of the piano world. His clientele and market are those people who have always wanted to learn to play but never thought they could. His techniques are very basic, but he's a great motivator. I think you could call it the "something is better than nothing" approach. wink
Scott Houston's role is mainly to be motivational, and to perhaps sell his book. His TV show is what got me interested in learing Piano, and I'm very glad for that. However, you shouldnt confuse it with piano instruction.

I dont know what I did with his book. I havent seen it in a long time. Probably I pitched it in a fit of rage. It is absolutely content free. Absolutely any other book you read will be 100% better, will have some content. For just one popular example, "How to play Popular Piano in 10 Easy Lessons" by Monath is pretty good to explain first concepts. Your public library probably has it. This one is quite overstated too, but at least it actually attemps to explain a few things. Scott Houstons teaching philosophy only seems to be to just "press these little white and black thingies with your fingers". And that is indeed all it takes. smile

That takes nothing away from the classical vs popular music comparison. They are indeed very different concepts and styles, and not everyone is interested in playing classical music, no shame in that.

The classical piano style learns to play the music exactly as written, no exceptions. This takes skill and learning. You know exactly what to do, the music makes it very clear what to do. The trick is in learning to make your fingers do what you want to do.

Popular is played however you want to play it, no two people will likely play anything the same way. It is mostly chord based, but this is an awesome subject. Not only do you have to know how to decide what notes to play, and then you also have to have the same skill to make your fingers do it.

So, a little classical instruction is a very good thing, a good starting point, even for the goal of playing popular music. There is just a wee bit more to it than Houston would have you believe.
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