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Piano Lessons!


Lee Knight

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I've been dreaming of taking piano lessons for years. As in, 40 years. My keyboard skills are restricted to helping me understand how theory works for writing songs, and my attempts at either midi controller entry or faux Elton folk pop excursions.

 

If I could only play piano like a play bass. Second nature. I'm doing. And I would love input form Justin/Bee3 or anyone else who has taken lessons. Actually any kind of music lessons.

 

Here's my exchange with the teacher.

 

 

Hi Jerry,

 

I

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I am most definitely the wrong guy to ask... I'm mostly self-taught on piano. My experience with teachers:

 

Mrs. Rose: A decrepid old woman who came to my house to give lessons for $3/each. I was 10. I have reason to believe she could neither see nor hear effectively. She dropped me because I refused to practice.

 

Sister Mary: A decrepid old nun who used to keep me after school to give me lessons when I was 13. I have reason to believe she had no soul... literally. I think I quit because I rather would have been skateboarding.

 

Jim: Temple University music student. Cool guy... came to my house. Really believed in me. He was grooming me for an audition to get into Temple's music program. I basically freaked and quit because I didn't believe I could hack it... and I had developed a ton of bad habits on the keys that I didn't think I could ever overcome.

 

So, when you add it up, I've had about 1 year's worth of lessons... and I'm still a complete hack with minimal understanding of music theory.

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:) ^^^ Awesome!!!

 

I have dreams of actually being a player. To play something other than the bass proficiently would be such a help to my songwriting and demos. BTW, a nun with no soul?!?!?! 9 years of Catholic school for me and that was a common occurrence.

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I did a summer of lessons w/ a guy I found on Craigslist, and it was unsatisfying. He was a lounge guy, basically, and kept pushing me in that direction, with sight reading, fake books, etc. Not bad skills to have, but I could only do like 10 lessons during the summer, and was never going to get that stuff locked down in time. I wanted to learn some hand independence and some rhythm riffing--basically the stuff that you're already taking for granted--but he kept pushing back. After about 4 lessons, I switched over to saxaphone, which he also taught, and which I was amateur enough at that we both agreed I needed to work on the same stuff--upper register work, emboucher, etc. Getting a teacher to take directions is difficult.

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I did a summer of lessons w/ a guy I found on Craigslist, and it was unsatisfying. He was a lounge guy, basically, and kept pushing me in that direction, with sight reading, fake books, etc. Not bad skills to have, but I could only do like 10 lessons during the summer, and was never going to get that stuff locked down in time. I wanted to learn some hand independence and some rhythm riffing--basically the stuff that you're already taking for granted--but he kept pushing back. After about 4 lessons, I switched over to saxaphone, which he also taught, and which I was amateur enough at that we both agreed I needed to work on the same stuff--upper register work, emboucher, etc. Getting a teacher to take directions is difficult.

 

 

Good stuff, CM. I like this: "Getting a teacher to take directions is difficult" It's the way I feel about doctors. They're there to answer my questions. Not to inform me of their agenda. I don't believe in their agenda. It's skewed to feed their god complex. They can't help themselves. That's why I usually research and then ask pointed questions. I have a vested interest in me. They don't. Same with teachers. Of all types.

 

Jerry Michelsen seems to be stressing non reading understanding of theory as much as reading. Jamming on rock and blues as well. Of tailoring the approach to the students abilities and desires. I suspect, on paper at least, this is going to be a great match up. I'm hopeful.

 

Good points CM.

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I've been dreaming of taking piano lessons for years. As in, 40 years.

 

 

Just think of Bill Murray's piano lessons in Groundhog Day. You'll do fine.

 

BTW, I think this is really cool. There's a consignment shop/thrift shop (?) on Columbus I go past every day. I'm looking for a chest of drawers. I went in yesterday and they had a small Yamaha spinet piano. I sat down and played it for a while.

 

Ahhh, if only I had a slightly larger apartment...

 

Go for it!

 

LCK

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Just think of Bill Murray's piano lessons in
Groundhog Day.
You'll do fine.


BTW, I think this is really cool. There's a consignment shop/thrift shop (?) on Columbus I go past every day. I'm looking for a chest of drawers. I went in yesterday and they had a small Yamaha spinet piano. I sat down and played it for a while.


Ahhh, if only I had a slightly larger apartment...


Go for it!


LCK

 

 

I own one of these. They aren't too bulky or heavy, and they also have a nice finished wood look to them, so it fits in well with a classy room design.

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Piano lessons are for children who don't have the discipline to teach themselves. I've been playing piano since August, practicing about an hour a day usually (been letting myself go a bit recently as it's not such a priority atm.)

 

Unlike other instruments, there's limited technique to piano outside proper posture and fingering. I wouldn't bother getting lessons.

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Piano lessons are for children who don't have the discipline to teach themselves. I've been playing piano since August, practicing about an hour a day usually (been letting myself go a bit recently as it's not such a priority atm.)


Unlike other instruments, there's limited technique to piano outside proper posture and fingering. I wouldn't bother getting lessons.

 

 

Did you bother to read what he said he was hoping to learn?

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Hey dude. Finding a good teacher is one of the most important things you will ever do in your musical life...they can have such a profound effect on who you are/will be as a musician that it's not even funny (just as an example, imagine being taught by Clapton, Hendrix, Paige, Van Halen, DiMeola, McLaughlin, Vai, Malmsteem etc. etc. vs. being taught by Kurt Cobain or the guitarist from Green Day).

 

The problem that I encountered is that so many of the folks advertising their services as teachers GREATLY overstate their experience and abilities, not to mention the fact that they are horrible teachers. I can't emphasize this enough, you have to try several teachers before finding a good fit. You're already an incredibly experienced muso yourself so you should be able to get a feel for how good a muso your potential teacher is, but you really need to audition them thoroughly

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Yes. Piano and applied music theory can still be learned without a teacher in a just as a effective way.

 

 

Thank you and I hear you. I've been self teaching for years now and am ready for a great teacher. It's not a question of should I, I've played for years now, but rather, How do I find "the guy"?

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Piano/keyboard is my only instrument (besides voice), and I suck. I took lessons back when I was a teen, from a guy who was an accomplished musician, but I was too undisciplined and never practiced. Funny thing is, few musicians I've known can play piano very well. So they all think I'm a hero. But real pianists would not be impressed.

 

If there were a purpose at all for me going back for lessons again, it would be not to enhance my demos or anything (where it's easy to punch in and correct a note), but to become a better live player. I'm very insecure in front of an audience, afraid to flub a note, and it inhibits me. I'd love to be able to just launch into a spontaneous bluesy riff or solo during a song (which I really suck at), and just execute it perfectly. Precision. No fingers falling in between the keys, hitting notes I didn't mean to hit. I've seen Elton live 4 times, and he just makes all of it seem so effortless.

 

I kinda feel like I'm moving away from that phase of wanting to be a piano virtuouso, though. My free time is limited and I kinda just want to use it to write songs.

 

So I guess my point is that is may be a phase. At least that appears to be how it's shaping up for me. If the goal is just a personal quest to become a better musician, then more power to you. But your demos usually sound great, so I'm not sure there's any real problem there.

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Thank you. Great post and great from the trenches info.

 

 

Right on man, having been in almost the exact same situation you are I'm glad I could help, definitely keep me posted and PM anytime if you need any further advice or anything.

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...but to become a better live player. I'm very insecure in front of an audience, afraid to flub a note, and it inhibits me. I'd love to be able to just launch into a spontaneous bluesy riff or solo during a song (which I
really
suck at), and just execute it perfectly. Precision. No fingers falling in between the keys, hitting notes I didn't mean to hit. I've seen Elton live 4 times, and he just makes all of it seem so effortless.

 

That describes my insecurity on the instument pretty well. I know what I want to play. :) But seriously, that's most the battle and I'm happily confident in what my mind comes up with. Execution is another story altogether. And yes, punching in and midi editing is wonderful for realizing those ideas in your music. I'm with you there as well.

 

I can sit in with anybody and feel fairly comfortable on bass. But piano? Boy, I'd love that.

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Lee I think this involves many factors

1.How much time do you want to spend learning/practicing vs your other music endeavors.

2.Your expectations of how proficient of a player you want to be.

3.How good are your ears?

4.How much music theory do you already know.

 

I am an "ear" guy". On several occasions I took Piano, vocal and guitar lessons in my lifetime. I do feel I was lucky I did have great teachers, but I always seemed to go back to fiddling and

using my ears most the time. I get to certain points with Music Theory then shutdown. It is kind of a bummer as it takes longer to figure out what the next options are with chord progressions and

melody. My dear friend that past away a year ago was Professional performer and sessions player on Guitar. did mentor me, but he told me not to change too much and trust my ears as I

play the Guitar in a away he thought was pretty cool and different.

There was a similar thread on another forum and many suggested what others have above but many also recommended just play, you figure out stuff just doing that. I recently have picked up a few new synths

don't play piano much with Keyboards, my Guitars have seen less action as I seem to cycle between Keys and Guitars. Doing Electronic music I really want to actually play or create my own patterns vs

1 finger arps. So I am kind of in the same boat. I want to learn more on the Piano. I have some Piano books laying around when I was studying Vocal Ed at the local University. I'll pull them out and use the internet for more resources. I doubt I'll enlist a instructor.

good luck

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1.How much time do you want to spend learning/practicing vs your other music endeavors.

I think I'd like to put in 30 minutes a day for a least 6 months. To give my bad fingering habits a retraining.

 

 

2.Your expectations of how proficient of a player you want to be.

I have no expectations. I want to improve.

 

 

3.How good are your ears?

Pretty good. I can scan out a chord chart with rhythm in a pass or two. I can recognize chord function by ear. I can predict with a good assurance where an arrangement is going to go. Like with sitting in on bass on a tune I don't know. I can fake it by listening. So, I get diatonic harmony and have a good notion of what's happening.

 

 

4.How much music theory do you already know.

Plenty. But I want to be able to know what some of these chords I'm hearing, some Debussy, even some of the old keyboard pop like Steely Dan or the later Doobies, what's going on and why. I get lost harmonically what that stuff. I'm not particularly a fan of it, but I love some of the changes and modulations and voicings. And once again, I'm a little lost with that.

 

 

I am an "ear" guy".

Me too.

 

Anyway, first lesson in an hour...

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When I was in high school I procrastinated signing up for classes so long that I ended up with 2 options for filling in my last period. Piano and landscaping. Now if had been guitar, I probably would have jumped on it, but piano? I picked landscaping, a class I ditched out of over 60 times and a subject I still cant stand to this day. Hell, I even paid my mom to mow my yard once.

 

I've regretted that decision ever since. I keep meaning to pick up a used piano and taking some lessons. Every time I see something on craigslist I might be interested in, I remember that I would have to carry it up the front steps to get it in to the house, and lose interest again...

 

I would love to take lessons too. It's not that I am incapable of teaching myself, but I am too easily distracted and need someone to ride me to get me to practice.

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