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At that point, you can practice without struggling. You can relax, and focus all your attention on getting the job done. But keep this in mind: Otherwise, you might be using motions and fingerings that work perfectly in slow motion, but can hold you back when playing faster. To use the up-to-tempo approach, you might start by playing just a single beat, then add another, and so on.

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Just as important as how to practice, is what you need to do before you begin. Students often assume that committing a piece to memory is the final step in learning it. But think of it this way: In myth 1, we saw that a musical composition can be looked at as a series of chords. Using a numbering system Roman numerals to label the chord progression is an especially powerful way to understand and remember it.

See Myth 1 for classical pieces and pop songs that may come in handy for getting started with chord study. Work out the fingering.


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Clearly, good fingering can make a huge difference. But even when the benefits are more subtle, many small improvements can really add up. So take the time to explore fingering before you start to practice, and jot down your tentative choices. Can you learn to speak a foreign language convincingly without hearing it spoken? This is certainly true of pop songs because so much depends on the rhythmic groove or feel, which is virtually impossible to capture on paper and is not even hinted at on a lead sheet. But it applies equally to classical compositions, even though every aspect of the music is supposedly right there on the page.

So listen to recordings of your song or piece and be inspired by the magic a creative player can bring to it. Remember I said earlier that people who are supposedly practicing are often actually playing or trying to? Well, the reverse is also true: So the message is, you need to spend plenty of time in pure playing mode. Whatever happens, I do not stop. Psychologically, this can be tricky. Your focus has been on working and improving. But now you need to let go of all that. One way to get comfortable with this free-flowing, non-judgmental state is to improvise. See how to get started in myth 1.

As you begin to apply these principles, the key to success is starting simply. Which brings up an important point. But remember, this is a big moment in your musical life. And the payoff may come sooner than you think. Especially when you find yourself, more than ever before, playing straight from the heart. What a brilliant post.

I wasted a month trying to learn music theory. Now feeling far more confident and have memorized all 24 intervals. No idea if this approach is right, but it feels right so far. Learning all the intervals is fascinating in itself. Although it has taken me 6 months at 1 hour per day so far.

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But I now have them all! Kevin, thanks for the compliment. But I have to be honest about this. If your goal is learning to play the piano, then spending 6 months mastering the intervals before you even start playing is crazy! You should be playing music virtually from the first day, acquiring the piano technique and theory you need as you go along.

Sorry if that sounds blunt, but this is the true message of my article, and the philosophy on which my course is based. Guitar, you learn 3 chords and you can make music right away. Thanks for commenting, Michael. Hi Bruce, only just read your reply today? I have also worked through all 24 scales but not hands together yet. In between I have been. Trying to transcribe music by recognising the intervals. But it is okay while it is just two note intervals but trying to follow three or more is still very slow. After reading your reply I feel I may have wasted a lot of time.

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Today will go over chords as you outline. So exciting even though I have wasted so much time. Kevin, have you considered trying my course? I just began learning the piano a few weeks ago as a guitarist. This is inspiring and really useful. I now know how and why I practice or play. Thank you for this detailed article! I love the fact that you are encouraging your students to improvise and to not to be afraid of making mistakes. I believe that this freedom is one of the best feelings that you can experience while playing the piano. I have a question though: Is it a good way to start or do you think it is essential for one to read sheet music too?

Your videos show only your fingers. This may seem like a small point. I demonstrate this in this video , and in this article, in the section entitled: Without this understanding, the beginning player is forming bad habits that become harder to fix the longer he keeps reinforcing them. Almost every lesson in my course not only teaches you what notes to play, but helps you develop a relaxed, efficient, piano technique. However, I am a musician of many instruments. I mainly play the drums. I have learned many techniques for drumming in both school and on my personal time.

I even started playing metal with blast beats and all that good fun crazy speed in great timing. I have recently started playing piano in college and I must admit I have picked up on it at a very fast pace. I have my disputes on the way they teach piano in those types of classes. I have read and seriously appreciate the article you wrote.

I will apply this to my learning. If you have any other suggestions or tips I would appreciate it greatly if you can e-mail me or reply back on this page. I just hope I can find the page again. Thank you very much.


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As far as additional tips, I have lots! I present them in detail in my famous DoctorKeys courses. Just take a quick glance at the titles of other posts. I had another question. When I do that it just really affects my performance. Yes, it gets easier. But it takes time. The main key to becoming a better reader is are you ready for this?

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This is a very informative and detailed article. How long does it take to learn to play the piano? I had no idea why I did any of those things- my second teacher actually tried to get me to keep still while playing she was old, and taught more traditional classical music and tied to get me to focus on each individual note.

She gave up after a while, but it took a couple of years for her to do so. I tried to take a jazz improv course when I was 12, and I failed. Please notice that while I happen to have some natural talents that are good for being a musician, I still had to make them better through ear training and practice. Granted, I may not have had to work on them as hard as someone else without them, but I still did get better through old-fashioned, concentrated practice. Lastly, never forget to play your emotions. Never view practicing as a thing to dread, nor playing as a chore, or that is what your playing will become.

For those who have read to the very end, thanks! It means a lot to me! Wow—what a great little essay! You describe so many of the things that are important to me that I hardly know where to begin. I hope my readers will take to heart your thoughts, and be inspired to explore their own musicality with the same persistence and passion. Would you advocate this approach for children just beginning piano? I have a daughter just turning 8 who got a keyboard for Christmas but we also have a piano, and am struggling with whether best to enrol her for classical piano lessons, since think may well then end up better pianist, with more technical skills and better able to read music and play anything may want to play later in life from music.

Your approach makes sense and I know she would love to jam along to pop songs — maybe even with dad who is a rock guitarist self taught by ear. She would also enjoy being creative — making up her own songs. However I do not want to compromise her ultimate skills by going down this route rather than more usual more classical route through peripatetic music service in schools. Helen, thanks for the great question! Please understand that the issue here is not classical vs pop.

There are classically-oriented teachers who understand the value of playing before reading, thought they are not necessarily the easiest to find. Secondly, I would suggest that you check in with your daughter. Ideally, have her sit in on a lesson or class with some teachers you have in mind, or at the Rockacademy. Let her be your ally as you figure all this out.


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  8. By the way, when I teach kids, I teach their parents too—at least in the beginning stages. By learning to play these simple songs and pieces, moms and dads become ideal coaches at home. So the student has guidance all week long, rather than just on lesson day. This I know for sure: Still not quite sure what to do. By not wanting to compromise ultimate skills by going down this route, I meant Rockademy route, since I think may learn more technical stuff and be able to play more range of different music if go down more classical route. However I think Rockademy prob more fun and good for playing pop songs how you say and improvising.

    This is so true!! It makes me so sad to see so many potential piano players give up on their dreams for a bunch of stupid myths. Give me one hour. Piano is so much easier and more natural than people think! I hate this awful reputation it has. I hope I can help change it. Your email address will never be published. Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS. Titan Theme by The Theme Foundry.

    Each topic is a clickable link. The conversation will touch on all styles of music—-pop, jazz, classical, etc. You know—to express yourself. How the best musicians learn If you read about the formative years of the great performers and composers, one fact that stands out is how many of them were aural learners. How your ear fits into the picture Can you carry a tune? Getting practical A word to the beginner: Without sheet music, how does a beginner know what notes to play?

    The advantages of learning to accompany If chords are a great starting point for beginners, one way to begin using them is to back up your own singing. Not to mention the fact that songs are meant to be sung! Improvising Think about how we learn to speak. Your first improvisations Try this: Re-play the left hand part every now and then to renew its sound. Then try an F chord, and then others, too. Songs that use only, or mostly, I, IV, V, include: In other words, you can let gravity do the work.

    Better control; more exciting rhythm Besides keeping you relaxed, using arm weight gives you a more precise way to control dynamics loudness and softness. Repeat several times, then do the same with your left arm. Playing the piano with your whole body Obviously, a lot more goes into great technique than simply taking advantage of gravity.

    This new, user-friendly course means you can take up the piano at any age! Whether you're learning from scratch, or starting again, these three books will guide you gently into the pleasure of piano playing. You learn as you play. The course is based on familiar favorites from the classical repertoire, themes from opera and ballet, folksongs and blues, music by contemporary classical composers, and original pieces by Carol Barratt herself. The books include fascinating items of musical history and biography, an easy-to-follow introduction to the theory of music, and suggested listening to enhance your musical appreciation.

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