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books to teach myself piano (ok, keyboard)

(15 Posts)
fakeears Sat 19-Apr-14 11:06:55

I would love to have lessons with a living kicking teacher, but can't afford to at the moment. Can anyone recommend a good book that could get me started (maybe even tackling the early Grades, but really I just want an easy guide)

I don't read music (but am teaching myself)

Thanking you

boogiewoogie Sat 19-Apr-14 20:20:30

I'm afraid if you don't read music and are trying to teach yourself an instrument on top of that then you may find progress rather slow. I know that you've already said that you can't afford a living breathing teacher but you won't be saving that much money by trying to get by with book as you need someone to give you feedback on your technique.

However, if you really don't have any other option than to go down the self teaching route then I suggest that you visit the ABRSM forum in the Adult Learner or Piano section. You could aslo visit the pianoworld forum where there are many pro self teaching forumites to advise you how they taught themselves.

When I started a couple of years ago, I taught myself for 7 months before getting a proper teacher but I already knew how to read music then from doing the violin. I used this book. Which I found helpful when learning about chords and understanding circle of fifths to learn the scales.

You could also ask a friend who does know how to play the piano to comment on your technique, posture and hand position as poor technique if deeply ingrained will be quite difficult to unlearn.

Good luck with piano learning, it's very enjoyable and satisfying but at times not plain sailing and it is a case of delayed gratification to be able to play well.

fakeears Sat 19-Apr-14 21:07:04

Thanks boogiewoogie. Agree that a teacher would be best - but making do for the time being. Will check out the book and forum you suggest.

Ferguson Sat 19-Apr-14 23:46:49

John Thompson children's books are a good place to start, also Fanny Waterman tutors.

For adult learners, Kenneth Baker Complete series - Piano Player; Keyboard Player; Organ Player.

I'll come back tomorrow with more info - too late tonight!

Ferguson Sun 20-Apr-14 19:58:16

Oh - you don't seem to have moved on much!

It is quite possible to teach yourself from decent tutor books, provided you can discipline yourself, and not try to 'cut corners'.

So, is it an electronic keyboard you have, not a mechanical piano? Are you aiming to play Classical piano music eventually? Piano and Keyboard, although the notes are laid out the same way and look similar, are played in two distinctly different ways. If it is a Keyboard, does it have at least 61 notes, is it touch sensitive, and do you know how many note polyphony it has? Yamaha's currently have 32 note polyphony, so can sound up to 32 notes at a time. Yes! I know you only have ten fingers, but it allows for sustain and effects, so notes don't cut off like they used to in the 'old days' of 2, 4, 8 or even 16 note polyphony.

If you can answer the above sometime, I'll look in again and see if we are getting anywhere. Meanwhile, here are some tutor books for piano and keyboard:

fakeears Fri 25-Apr-14 17:21:49

Sorry Ferguson and Boogie for the gap, had a busy week with work - your answers much appreciated and if you're still around, here we go:

It's an electric keyboard, a Yamaha Portable Grand. I'm aiming to play classical - love the Romantics especially (though obv. a bit ambitious at this stage...) It has 76 touch sensitive keys.

Note polyphony - yes, 32

I'll check out the books, thanks for links

Ferguson Fri 25-Apr-14 19:33:04

Sounds very promising! You got the right gear, now you need the hard work to start!

Can't stop now, but will look back sometime, with info and hints that may (possibly!) help to make your efforts more successful.

Meanwhile, tell me what you DO already know about music, and what experience you've had.

boogiewoogie Fri 25-Apr-14 20:05:28

Fakeears glad to hear an update.

Classical would be a good place to start in terms of being able to obtain a clear tone and articulation. As Ferguson has already mentioned, the John Thompson books are a good place to start with the basics such as being able to play in the five finger position, playing legato, staccato, simple chords. Please also get yourself a decent theory book, it will help you understand how music works and make it easier for you to work out scales and chords.

I'm afraid, you may find a lot of Romantic music (Chopin, Satie, Debussy) quite difficult at this stage especially in terms of technique. You need to have a loose wrist to be able to do the leaps and control subtlety that appears in a lot of Romantic music and it's something that has to be trained. Don't let it discourage you though, by all means aim for it but I strongly recommend you get someone to look at what you're doing.

fakeears Sat 26-Apr-14 08:09:37

Many thanks, both. Yes, agree with the Romantics I'm aiming high, the moment I'm mainly doing the first two bars of 'Ode to Joy' until my DP tells me to stop.

Ordered the John Thompson Book 1.

I think I will need a theory book as at present my musical knowledge is:

Playing the violin when young, but not even up to a grade, so effectively worthless experience (I'm very easily discouraged. So this time, I want to break the habit of finding something hard and therefore giving up)
Where the middle 'C' is
The white notes middle 'C' to 'G' - where they are on the keyboard, and where they are on the music sheet

It's bad, isn't it? But I'm a hard worker.

Could either of you rec a very basic theory book?

boogiewoogie Sat 26-Apr-14 14:48:38

Fakeears The best step by step resource I found for music theory is not a book but the following online course

I also have The AB Guide to Music Theory but it's not user friendly if you're an absolute beginner. You can also work through the exercises in Music Theory in Practice but they don't have answers at the back. So you'll need to get the answer book as well if you're not working with a teacher.

Ferguson Sat 26-Apr-14 20:01:41

Any advice I offer is only from my own experience, as I have not had formal lessons, but I have picked up quite a lot of diverse knowledge on various aspects of music, though less on Classical than other genres.

As a teenager I tried to play trumpet, from a tutor book, and I also did piano 'by ear', but refused to have lessons when my mother wanted me to. My younger sister and brother had piano and violin lessons, and got several grades.

Aged 21 I had drum lessons from a professional teacher for 3 or 4 years, but never became as good as I had hoped. However, I did play for forty years in pubs, clubs, pantomimes and stage shows, and with old time music hall, and a versatile barn dance band. Working as a Teaching Assistant I taught recorder clubs for ten years, had a Year 6 keyboard club, and coached children on percussion to accompany the Christmas production each year.

In my 40s, I started learning electronic organ, two manuals and pedals, from Kenneth Baker books, which was great fun! So, although none of my experience is 'formal' I have helped children and some adults learn a certain amount of music. I always maintain it should be 'fun', and not TOO much like hard work.


OK: so you know where middle C is, so you can also find all the other Cs. But do you know why the BLACK notes are grouped in 2s and 3s? And why there is NO black note between B - C nor between E - F ? Discovering that, and starting to understand it, is the basis to theory, harmony, scales etc. It is also why Western music sounds different from Oriental, Indian and Arabian music.

When I was learning organ, I could read Treble Clef, but not Bass Clef, and I did the accompaniment from Chord Symbols. Eventually I realised that Treble and Bass are NOT two different things (which at first they seem to be) but are both part of the GRAND STAFF. I'll give you a link to that, which you can read at your leisure. I won't be around for the next week, but I'll check back in due course, and see if any of this has made sense to you!

fakeears Mon 28-Apr-14 21:16:42

Many thanks both! I'll check out the links and come back in a week or so.

OK: so you know where middle C is, so you can also find all the other Cs. But do you know why the BLACK notes are grouped in 2s and 3s? And why there is NO black note between B - C nor between E - F ? Discovering that, and starting to understand it, is the basis to theory, harmony, scales etc
Now I'll have to wait for a week for the answer :-
It feels a bit overwhelming at the moment, but I'll take it bit by bit.
Thanks v much, both

lizmjc Tue 29-Apr-14 12:21:07

I don't know how the book you've ordered will take you through, but with my piano pupils that are beginning without any musical experience, I use simple right-hand only melodies first, so they get familiar with the notes. When they feel comfortable using their right hand correctly i.e using all fingers in a five-finger position, or possibly outside of that, then I will introduce playing with the left hand through pieces that use the hands alternately, then introduce hands together. I've found that to work really well with getting used to reading both clefs and using both hands. I think it's essential to really grasp the basics first before moving on to anything else, as ultimately it will mean you can pick things up faster.

Not sure if that'll be of any use, but hopefully it might be interesting for someone...

fakeears Tue 06-May-14 19:30:59

lizmjc sorry for very late reply - but that is very useful - thank you

SlightlyNerdyPianist Wed 18-Jun-14 07:47:09

Don't know if this reply is too late for you to get, but I have an adult learner who cannot afford weekly lessons, and he has one a month; works out at £3.75 a week. Would that be worth looking into? It's not ideal, but it's just about enough to keep her on track and stop any weird habits developing, and to be available for questions. Also, my daughter has a maths tutor who swops maths tuition for piano lessons, which I'm very happy with! I've had a few emails in the past offering skills as 'payment' for lessons (although these I turned down as they weren't anything I was interested in).

Now if someone offered me cleanin for piano lessons, i may well take them up on it...,

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