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How to get better at piano?

skatjskatj Posts: 837Registered User Member
edited November 2008 in High School Life
I've teaching myself to play piano (well, keyboard) on the side for a few months without a teacher. I've had prior musical experience before so it wasn't too difficult. I'm at the point where I can string chords with melodies by ear fairly easily (although I'm only proficient in C and D major). I can play stuff like Lord of the Rings, Christmas songs, movie scores, etc.

I'm not really sure what I should be practicing though, since I don't have a teacher to guide me. I don't really use sheet music unless it has chords notated on it since I'm horrible at sight reading bass clef (esp. at the same time as treble), and I can't really play eighth notes on left hand yet.

Any suggestions on how to practice and develop my ability? I mainly play just for relaxation/enjoyment.
Post edited by skatj on

Replies to: How to get better at piano?

  • MoodretsMoodrets Posts: 1,497Registered User Member
    I have absolutely no direct advice to contribute, but IV's supposedly fairly proficient at the piano, you should ask her (or him? ;p)...
  • lilygraceslilygraces Posts: 1,195Registered User Senior Member
    IV's a girl.

    I'd say buy sheet music online or at Sam Ash and practice, practice, practice. Take it from someone who's been playing piano for almost 14 years and as someone who has learned music by ear for most of her life. It gets easier when you have the physical notes in front of you.

    Practice scales, look up finger strengthening exercises, pick pieces and songs that you want to play and will have fun playing. When you hit a rough spot in a piece, just go over and over and over it until it is as close to perfect as you think you can manage... at least at that point in time.

    That's all I can think of at this time.
  • INVENIAMVIAMINVENIAMVIAM Posts: 3,790Registered User Senior Member
    ^LOL thanks for sticking up for me Lily - although doomster, srsly.... srrrrrrrsly. lol.

    Anyway, if you really do want to learn it, like.. for REAL learn the piano and not just mess around and stuff - without a teacher, you could probably hit up a music store and find some lesson books from like Thompson or Faber&Faber [although I don't like them much for some reason, they're fine really though] or something else. Thompson is really nice I think, at least in the beginning - if you just look at the first level book, check out the beginning and see how it looks [as in.. if you think you could play it or not] and then check the stuff at the end and if it's the right level for you, you shouldn't be able to play it, lol. Just get whichever level looks right, and go through every song until you can play them, etc etc.
    BUT if you just want to focus on playing by ear and improv with chords and such, you really won't need to do a lesson book - BUT if you really do want to become proficient at the piano, you need to learn all the basics [ah, yes, work on that bass clef, lol, that will help a LOT], and once you get those down you can do other stuff.
    Ehh I am extremely hungry right now and kind of distracted so all of that might be completely incoherent, dunno.




    edit - OH just saw that you're only playing for enjoyment/pastime - Hmmm. Well I guess for that you don't actually need to be able to read all the notes and stuff, although I still really think you should.. rrlawkeje I don't know.
  • ironmetal250ironmetal250 Posts: 743- Member
    YouTube - Metal Gear Solid 2

    Play this. I think he'll send you sheet music or something.
  • JBVirtuosoJBVirtuoso Posts: 4,579Registered User Senior Member
    Please, please, please learn how to play correctly. I recommend getting a primer book to start, even if you're more advanced than that. I learned how to play piano in elementary school without taking lessons, and it took me two years after I started formal lessons to get rid of my bad habits. For instance, most music has little numbers above the notes that tell you which fingers to use. Until I started taking lessons, I had no idea what those numbers meant, so I just used whatever fingers I thought were best. Needless to say, that's not the correct way to play, and 99% of the time, the fingering pattern they show in the music is the best one to use. It's really important to learn the basics before you progress.

    By the way, it may seem difficult at first, but if you're diligent, you'll pick up on it rather quickly. Just don't cheat yourself out of practicing. I suffer from that very problem, and I've taken lessons now for seven years.
  • Mike1234Mike1234 Posts: 251Registered User Junior Member
    Yes, like the above posters said, you have to learn how to do play correctly. I can't stand watching people who mess around playing incorrectly, and thinking they know everything about piano. One of my friends was even playing two keys with one finger (to my knowledge, except in very extreme situations, this is something you would NEVER do). A lot of the music publishers have beginner piano courses, I learned when I was little so I used kids books, but they have adult versions too. You should focus less on sight reading and more on learning songs over the long term. It's not unusual to spend months learning a piece, because the goal is not simply to play it, but to play it well.
  • : ): ) Posts: 667Registered User Member
    go to amazon and look for "the library of piano classics", or the beginner's version of the same book. it's pretty much all i could've asked for. and definitely learn correctly - sometimes if you start out with a little mistake or two (in terms of fingering, technique, etc.) it can take an unimaginable amount of work to fix it in the future.
  • JBVirtuosoJBVirtuoso Posts: 4,579Registered User Senior Member
    Actually, there are many instances when I play two keys with one finger, though it's almost always the thumb. That's usually only used when the keys that need to be played are really far apart, and it's easier to play two keys with the thumb. So I guess it is pretty rare.
  • INVENIAMVIAMINVENIAMVIAM Posts: 3,790Registered User Senior Member
    ^Yeah, only every play 2 keys with one finger when you're stretching so far that it's pretty much impossible NOT to play the furthest 2 keys with only your thumb.


    Also about this:
    For instance, most music has little numbers above the notes that tell you which fingers to use. Until I started taking lessons, I had no idea what those numbers meant, so I just used whatever fingers I thought were best. Needless to say, that's not the correct way to play, and 99% of the time, the fingering pattern they show in the music is the best one to use. It's really important to learn the basics before you progress.
    If you do [and please do it this way!] decide to learn the basics of piano properly, remember that the fingering numbers are NOT how you learn to play! I know seeeeveral students who started out at the piano using music that had a finger number over each note - this can be good when you're using the fingering simply to play the music more easily, etc - BUUUUT when you just start in piano books, the first music will always be in C position, then D position, stuff like that - and a lotttt of people never bother to learn the notes because they know they can just plop their hands down at the keys and press whichever finger is written above the note. NOT a good idea. Yeah, you'll play the song "correctly" but you're not going to learn the notes this way, and it'll screw you over when you start playing songs where your hands move around a lot.
  • MillancadMillancad Posts: 5,912Registered User Senior Member
    First off- get a teacher. I've played the piano on and off since the age of 6 (my sister, who played consistently and had more natural skill anyway, is amazing) and nothing helps like a teacher. Get a good one, one who works for you, listen to his/her advice, and employ it in your playing and practicing. That's how you get better.
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