Teaching myself/"learning" the piano, late in life; advice?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by RoscoeElegante, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    AND...I can't read music. And not sure I wanna try. Did so once, and it just about split me brains. (I am an English teacher for a reason!) Learned guitar by ear, friends, mimicking, experimenting, "reading" tabs, Maestro U le Tube, etc.

    So...can I continue to "learn" the piano this way--on my own, plotting out chords and notes, YouTube how-to's, by ear--without having to learn how to read music, or take formal lessons?

    Or is the piano the kind of creature that you just gotta surrender to the formal ways of learning it?

    To answer the "What kinds of tones do you like?" equivalent here: I play lots of my own stuff. The piano parts to my songs that I've heard in my head for years/hear clearly. Even when guiding professional pianists on what I'm hearing for a song's piano part, there are pauses, inflections, etc., that I don't know the names for but by the time I can demonstrate what I mean, I've learned how to do it myself. I like everything from Chopin's "Preludes" to Floyd Cramer to "Layla" to "Let It Be" to old-school R&B and black gospel.

    So...read music/get lessons, or not? Also, what fumbling, eager newbie tips can you share?

    Thanks!

    By the way, it sure is fun, having all the notes already laid out for you. When the keys don't suddenly blur into an indistinguishable/where the heck am I? jumble, it's beautiful to have it all before you. My close-second-favorite instrument. There are universes in there.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  2. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    My advice would be to get a set of lesson books for beginners. 6 year olds don't know how to read music either. All the series work on that as well as playing. Playing piano seriously requires technique no matter what you play. You don't necessarily need a teacher, but you do need a progression of difficulty.
     
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  3. RetroTeleRod

    RetroTeleRod Poster Extraordinaire

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  4. chulaivet1966

    chulaivet1966 Tele-Afflicted

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    Well....if I were asked:

    I'd say the the piano is probably the easiest instrumentss to learn.
    Why?....it's linear in concept and less challenging as far as dexterity requirements over time with focused practice.
    There's likely countless beginner books and YT video tutorials to get you started.

    How serious are you?
    No...you don't have to learn 'formally' but if bucks are available it would surely help to take some lessons for even short period of time.
    Sight reading....not absolutely necessary.
    But....I think it's incumbent of all of us to learn the language of music.....yes, some theory.
    Learn the staff.
    It's not that difficult.....if I can do it I'm sure a sea turtle could.

    If noodling around for fun (forever) is your interest then ignore my comments. :)

    Hope that helps.....do carry on.
     
  5. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Practice as much as you can and listen to as much and as many different kinds of music as you can ... Play with other musicians and learn from them ... Sounds like you are on the right path...
     
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  6. RetroTeleRod

    RetroTeleRod Poster Extraordinaire

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  7. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted

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    I have some keyboards I use for MIDI stuff. Recently I did some tracks and decided to just play along with the tracks I'd already laid down. It was helpful to identify the notes in the chords after which I could vary the voicings a bit. And also which notes would be good to use for improvising over certain chords or adding little runs at the end of a phrase. In that case, it makes more sense to know which keys NOT to hit.

    I can read music (though I don't usually do so unless learning a new fiddle tune out of a book) and took some piano lessons years ago. Neither of these has any impact on what I am doing today. I'd say if you can fake it just keep doing so.
     
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  8. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    My advice, Ibuprofen for the sore wrists! I was amazed how sore they got!
     
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  9. Hags

    Hags Tele-Meister

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    Learning chords and thier inversions helped me out
     
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  10. Garruchal

    Garruchal Tele-Meister

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    The ONE thing you can do that really works no matter how or what you learn: play every day. You can't catch up every few days. It has to be a daily thing.
     
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  11. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Friend of Leo's

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    I found a book series for teaching yourself piano as an adult. Seemed good. Idk.
     
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  12. GoldieLocks

    GoldieLocks Tele-Afflicted

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    You don't need to read music. Chord charts should be enough.

    I started undoing everything I play on guitar - and doing it on piano. didn't take long. It'll take years to develop a good left and right hand technique. (I didn't). This is where practicing scales will come in handy.

    Learn some Bob Dylan songs.
     
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  13. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Tele-Meister

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    I think learning a new instrument is great fun.

    I started playing piano when I was 9. I am a pretty good mediocre player. I started learning the banjo when I was 58 or 59 and I started on the violin a couple of years ago when I was 63.

    So I don't think age will be a problem.

    As chulavet1966 said, the piano is a linear instrument. That being the case, if you did wish to think about learning to read, it is an excellent instrument to learn that on. Each written note has only one corresponding piano key so it is 'easy' to learn.

    Now I learnt the technical skills of playing by reading written pieces of music that were written or chosen to teach certain skills. I am sure there are other ways to learn most of these skills but knowing how to read does open up a lot of possibilities.

    The piano is like any other musical instrument. There aren't magic formulas (though like the guitar, the pentatonic scale does work wonders) and you need to take, in my opinion, unless you're extremely talented, a lot of time to practice (like thousands of hours).

    I am learning the violin with online video lessons and I learnt the banjo the same way. In my case, I can read and I think that helps a lot with an instrument like the violin but what I want to express is that you don't necessarily need formal lessons to learn a classical instrument like the piano.
     
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  14. scrapyardblue

    scrapyardblue Friend of Leo's

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    I've taught myself as much as I want just by playing. I'm convinced I could teach myself a whole lot more, just by playing.
    When I go into the studio, however, I bring in a real player. Too many other priorities.

    Books, videos might help, but you can do it yourself.
     
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  15. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Practice!
     
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  16. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Very interesting thread. I too, am in the same boat. I’m teaching myself, and my sight reading of music is limited. I have the I, VI, IV, V progression down pretty well, and I’m beginning to learn some major 7th chords, but the black keys intimidate me.

    And, I don’t practice every day, but I have bought a couple beginner books.

    I found this website to be very helpful:
    http://chordfind.com/keyboard/

    I started late in life too, BTW.
     
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  17. GibbyTwin

    GibbyTwin Tele-Meister

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    Just do it the way you want and have fun. I did the same with flute. Started with a tin whistle, learned to play that (really easy, only 6 holes :)) and then bought a flute. Figured out the fingering and eventually the embouchure part (after scoping a few u-toobs). I can play some songs and that's all I want to be able to do. Every once in a while I even work out a new tune. Just having fun.
    It all depends on how far you want to take it and how much you're willing to commit.
     
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  18. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some of the apps for this are incredible these days.

    If you have an iPad you could look for some that you follow along with. You can get home keyboards with screen that include teaching modes too.

    If you can get the basics of chords (maj, min, 7th, etc) and their inversions it is not hard to get good at busking from guitar chord sheets.
     
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  19. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    a couple goals:

    1 reading existing music, learning pieces
    2 sight-reading existing music you've never seen before really well
    3 generating new music, improvising

    I got to be a pretty good trained monkey from childhood through adolescence (played Bach, Chopin, and Rachmaninov in recital), but I was a fairly weak sight-reader

    it wasn't until guitar that I really started understanding how to create music

    to me, any pedagogy depends *profoundly* on the goal
     
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  20. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    Get lessons from a teacher who is willing to do it after reading your post. It will give you a quick boost that should help you with what you really want to do on the piano.
     
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