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Learning piano basics

aussie_owner

Gold Supporting Member
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3,261
My goals for the new year are to learn to read music, and learn at least enough piano to play simple backing tracks, mostly synth stuff as opposed to piano. I think it would also help my music theory.

Can I get enough out of online resources, like YouTube and such, to learn basic keyboard competency? I know lessons would probably be the best, and I may look into taking some lessons eventually, but for now I'd like to at least get on the road.
 

thecornman

Member
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2,399
If you already play guitar and know your chords and scales it isn't very hard to cross that over to playing keys. You will be using the same notes to build chords and play scales on keys as you do on guitar. To start out with the white keys on a keyboard are the notes that make up a C major scale. Figuring it out from there is not going to be very hard if you already know the theory from playing guitar.
 

Babysquid

Member
Messages
411
If you already play guitar and know your chords and scales it isn't very hard to cross that over to playing keys. You will be using the same notes to build chords and play scales on keys as you do on guitar. To start out with the white keys on a keyboard are the notes that make up a C major scale. Figuring it out from there is not going to be very hard if you already know the theory from playing guitar.
And all the black keys make up the Eb pentatonic so you can get your Stevie Wonder thing going as well as the Eastenders theme
 

greenlander

Member
Messages
1,260
Learning to read music alone will open up a whole universe of knowledge. I love to follow along with full scores while listening to orchestral works. Then if you hear something intriguing you can see how the composer handled the orchestration, or how the tone colors of instrument groups work together or juxtapose. You'd be surprised how much density and complexity there is in many scores that you don't even necessarily realize is happening, but when the parts are played all together it has a huge collective sonic impact. That's the genius of the great composers.

Sight reading while playing is a whole other ballgame, and IMO exponentially more work to get anywhere close to decent at. I'm a horrible sight reader, in fact I can't really do it at all, not in real time (unless there's chord names above the staff--cheating!). I have to read the notes, peck it out on the keyboard and then just try to memorize. Training to be a good sight reader is probably where you'll want to take lessons from a good instructor.

It all depends on your goals. If you're just playing pop and rock tunes, a good ear will let you get by once you're comfortable playing keys and develop a feel for note voicings. Playing chords and basic melodies you can probably learn on your own fairly easy. If you want to do shredding jazz fusion solos you're going to need to practice scales and finger exercises to build up technique. That stuff is hard to keep up without motivation from a teacher.
 

aussie_owner

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,261
Scales and Arpeggios over and over again.

All keys, all inversions, all tempos, both hands.

In a year you'll be as good if not better on keys than your current guitar skills.
Considering my guitar skills, it may not take a year. I'm an OK player, but far from being a virtuoso. Someday I want to suck equally at guitar, bass, and keys.

Learning to read music alone will open up a whole universe of knowledge. I love to follow along with full scores while listening to orchestral works. Then if you hear something intriguing you can see how the composer handled the orchestration, or how the tone colors of instrument groups work together or juxtapose. You'd be surprised how much density and complexity there is in many scores that you don't even necessarily realize is happening, but when the parts are played all together it has a huge collective sonic impact. That's the genius of the great composers.

Sight reading while playing is a whole other ballgame, and IMO exponentially more work to get anywhere close to decent at. I'm a horrible sight reader, in fact I can't really do it at all, not in real time (unless there's chord names above the staff--cheating!). I have to read the notes, peck it out on the keyboard and then just try to memorize. Training to be a good sight reader is probably where you'll want to take lessons from a good instructor.

It all depends on your goals. If you're just playing pop and rock tunes, a good ear will let you get by once you're comfortable playing keys and develop a feel for note voicings. Playing chords and basic melodies you can probably learn on your own fairly easy. If you want to do shredding jazz fusion solos you're going to need to practice scales and finger exercises to build up technique. That stuff is hard to keep up without motivation from a teacher.
Thanks for the insights. My goals are pretty modest, mainly playing synth stuff and simple backing tracks. Learning to read music has been a goal for a while. I have music I want to learn to play that's in score, so it's time to learn to read music. Not sure if I'll ever be any good at it, but that remains to be seen.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,080
Get the John Thompson piano course books and a mean old German lady with a ruler to help you "keep tempo" and you'll be learning like I did back in the 60's. :confused:

I guess the question is what kind of keyboard are you starting with?
 

aussie_owner

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,261
Get the John Thompson piano course books and a mean old German lady with a ruler to help you "keep tempo" and you'll be learning like I did back in the 60's. :confused:

I guess the question is what kind of keyboard are you starting with?
I have three 61-key keyboards, an elderly 80's Yamaha electric piano, a 90's Casio CT-680, and an M-Audio Code 61 that I use with VST plugins.

Thanks for the book suggestion.
 
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My first music lessons were on the piano. I stopped playing when I got into junior high, dabbled a bit during high school, but didn't seek out real piano lessons again until adulthood.

So my last piano teacher had me get these:



Each of these volumes has a companion CD - you may have to order the CD(s) separately.

There is a 3rd volume but it's not necessary. After working through the first 2, you will have more than enough training for your stated goal ("enough piano to play simple backing tracks").

My comments are based on my own experience. After completing Vol. 2, I was able to move on to some of the Bach Inventions, work with some jazz stuff, etc. Without the Alfreds book, I would have had a much harder time.
 
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Modulator

Member
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2,731
Playing synth is a little different than playing piano since you have additional ways of controlling the synth that a piano doesn't have. Things like aftertouch, sequencers, arpeggiators, pitch bend wheel, modulation wheel, portamento, etc. That's some of the stuff to really get things expressive in multi-dimentions and to play things tighter than any human could and to do things like note slides, vibrato, etc., many of the things you do on the guitar that don't necessarily translate to playing a piano, but can do with a synth.

My avatar is one of my synth's keyboard. It's a different way of looking at keys than a piano that forces you to think about music differently. Not better, just another way.

But back to the point. Learning piano will most likely improve your guitar playing and music theory. I hated taking lessons when I was in grade school, but now glad I did since I seemed to have learned some things that are still useful in my guitar playing. Get real lessons...and at least a full size weighted keyboard if going digital. a teacher will help you focus on what to learn, help you learn good habits, give you tips, etc. Might be able to take a night class at a community college or university maybe?
 






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