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Learning keyboard - back to basics
Old 26th February 2020
  #1
Gear Head
Learning keyboard - back to basics

Hi all!
Now I'm not musically talented like some people I know, and no matter how much I try reading music just doesn't click.
I'm better at playing by ear.
I'm mainly into Synths and love the noise that can be manipulated but wouldn't mind learning abit of music like we used to as kids?
When music sheets had colours, and Synthesia off YouTube is a help.
I probably need to stick letters on my keys and get a basic book.
Anyone else know easy to play pop music books? Or anyone who can't read music but loves music?
Old 26th February 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
grasspike's Avatar
Hal Leonard publishing has a huge library of "Fake" Books in many musical genres. These books break down a song into chords.

Get one of these books and practice with it. Learn the chords and how to play them.

Not sure what your budget is but there is a guy who has been around for decades (can't remember his name) who makes a series of videos/DVDs called "Piano In a Flash" that teaches chord based Piano.

My Father is a piano tuner and has recommended them to his clients for ever when people ask him for a resource.

It's piano based but easily transfers over to synths
Old 26th February 2020
  #3
Old 26th February 2020
  #4
Here for the gear
I'm not a strong reader and I found this extremely helpful.

https://fundamentals-of-piano-practice.readthedocs.io/
Old 26th February 2020
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Just start with major scales and major and minor triads in all keys.
Old 26th February 2020
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Try the EDMprod courses. I am currently halfway through Songwriting for Producers and it's amazing! So much hands on knowledge and examples. I tried several times with books and have now found a way to actually learn the basics in a way it's useful for electronic music production.

https://www.edmprod.com/products/
Old 26th February 2020
  #7
Gear Head
 

There is no such thing as natural talent. There is only time and focus.

1) Flash Cards. It is the easiest, fastest, most painless way to memorize anything. Make one for each note on the bar. One side is note on the bar other side is just the letter. This will supercharge all playing and learning theory. Being able to read is exponetially empowering. Once you have the single note flash cards, make ones for chords, because, like words, we see them as one thing, not each letter.

2) I have listened to every keyboard teacher on youtube. I kid you not. OK maybe I missed a couple in 2007. All genres.

Here is the best, without anyone close, IMHO if you are looking for results:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis..._UpvE0QhfqiUQf
Link Edited

Video quality is.....lofi.....but he is working the motherlode like nobody else I have seen. If somebody wants you to learn modes, run away. Charlie Parker never knew a mode. They are a terrible distraction, worse than synths. Trying to get them down breaks players all the time and they give you nothing which won't come naturally with BeBop scales and Slash Chords, much sooner. #11 b9 they all appear without modes.

3) Once you can read a little, this
https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Piano-...2731009&sr=8-3

I have 5 shelves of music books. Nothing gets to the heart in such a simple effective way as that book.

4) Time. Playing improvement is something you see after two weeks everyday, at the soonest.

5) Attitude. Since there are no instant results, you have to enjoy sucking while trying. If you are dissappointed you are dead. Disappointed people cannot learn. Revel in sucking, you will triumph.

6) Time: make practice beats on some kind of drum machine, simple so you can find "the one". Then start programing "son clave" and other latin stuff, very simply. Play with and without your "metronome"

7) "The Cycle" If you can't play all major triads in every inversion, and move up and down, between chords, by fourths and 5ths, you are trying to walk without legs. Anyone can learn that in a month. Forget 9ths and 11ths before you have that down. Only three four note chords are critical: Maj 6th Dom 7th and DIM. Those are the arpeggio targets.

There are only 3 DIM chords. Learn every inversion by heart. From Beethoven to Dr Dre, use of DIM is fundamental.

8) Slow. The only thing great players ALL have in common: they don't try to play something new fast at first. They start slow but correct. 40bpm. If you skip that it is crippling and you will have to go back or give up. One E And Ah Two E And Ah. The best players in the world can count. When learning, often, they still do.

9) Listen to alot of keyboard. Piano and Organ are fundamental. Teddy Wilson, Fats Waller, Tatum, Dr John, Evans and the living COGIC hammond players--they've taken Preston and Smith to a new level.

If you have met many keyboard players it should be clear charm and intelligence have nothing to do with it. They have lived in the shed. That is all.
Old 26th February 2020
  #8
Lives for gear
Hi,

I play piano and I'm a good music reader.
You must know that there is no shortcut.
You simply learn to read music and play it on an instrument by doing so.
This is really really important!! There are no shortcuts!

And please no letters or other things on the keyboard!!!
If there are letters on the keyboard you simply learn to recognize letters on a keyboard and that is not what you really want.

You must of course start with music that is not too challenging to read for you.
Simple melodies for instance. If you like you could use an easy fake book (not a complex jazz fake book).
If you like "The Beatles" take one easy fake book of them. They have often simple but very good melodies. Or an easy pop/rock fake book.

I don't know If you really are at the start, but then you must decode note by note, first ignore the rhythm.
Decode the first note, play it on the instrument, then the next, but then play both notes, and so on.

In another step you need to recognize the rhythmic note values and to play the rhythm of the notes.
There are special tutorials for recognizing the rhythm of notes and playing them.
At first only by counting the beat and clapping the rhythm (this is really important for a solid rhythm feel).

Best regards
Old 26th February 2020
  #9
Here for the gear
Online music note flashcards:

https://musicards.net/music_flash_ca...lashcards.html
Old 26th February 2020
  #10
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
...

2) I have listened to every keyboard teacher on youtube. I kid you not. OK maybe I missed a couple in 2007. All genres.

Here is the best, without anyone close, IMHO if you are looking for results:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis..._UpvE0QhfqiUQf
Bad link. Search term or title?
Old 26th February 2020
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
A lot of mainstream music is basic chords, or heavily structured around them. Many guitarists can't read music for instance, and use tablature and chords so there's nothing stopping you from doing the same with chords. So find a good chord chart that shows it as keys and you should be able to play any song written out as chords, this would help with figuring out more intricate parts too if you like since you then know what notes it (most likely)has to be. So this way readily available chords for guitar work for you, so long as they're not capo'd anyway.

I'm self taught; for me I found it was easiest to learn by finding a song I liked then learning how to play it by ear, sheet music, and/or chords. A multi-pronged approach as it were, so you might find going by ear and chords the way to go.
Old 26th February 2020
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
...
So find a good chord chart that shows it as keys and you should be able to play any song written out as chords,
...
Sorry, I would not recommend this.

On a keyboard it's not so difficult to learn the structure of chords.
For instance if you build chords on white keys, just take every other key (up to three keys) and you have a chord, it's root is the lowest key/note.

With black keys it's a little more complicated.

If you understand the construction of chords, you can build every chord without a chart. (by the way, the same applies to guitar playing)

best regards
Old 27th February 2020
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Behrmoog View Post
Sorry, I would not recommend this.

On a keyboard it's not so difficult to learn the structure of chords.
For instance if you build chords on white keys, just take every other key (up to three keys) and you have a chord, it's root is the lowest key/note.

With black keys it's a little more complicated.

If you understand the construction of chords, you can build every chord without a chart. (by the way, the same applies to guitar playing)

best regards
From how they said it they're basically a beginner to playing, so a chart with the keys illustrated would get them playing chords quickly. Save extensive theory for later, especially since it seems like they're wanting to play others' works for now. Reading sheet music isn't the gatekeeper to playing music, as much as pretentious clods would have you believe.

I had another half to my first post on key signatures, chord theory, etc... I ended up deleting because it's not what's needed at this point.
Old 27th February 2020
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatPend View Post
Bad link. Search term or title?
Thank you, Pat.
I edited link in my post above but here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis..._UpvE0QhfqiUQf

Conner starts at ground zero, but in a really compelling way at the fundamentals of harmony, as perhaps a young Barry Harris might have learned in Detroit (in a perfect world)

Conner is a genre snob, but so is Marsalis. I'm the opposite. But what he is teaching trancends genre, and the framework is very tight and rich.

Barry Harris is still living and teaching. He is hard to understand on youtube because you just get snippets. He has taught more people right off the street to make high level music perhaps than any living person.

It's true there are no shortcuts. Except one: avoiding distraction of dabling in pretty theories or formulas.

Here is the other incredible Harris 'whisperer' for keyboard, also less than Adam Neely level video, but a far more effective teacher, Bill Graham.

He is great to use with Conner.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis..._5U3DLoZm_S0du

These guys don't teach riffs or moves. They give you a method which will produce them spontaneously. Conner starts more fundamentally and you a get some good scale priorities.

No two teachers on Youtube present a faster, more tangible and fun path to harmony and improvisation. IMHO of course, but I tried many of the very slick Jazz teachers before I accidentally found these guys in Barry Harris research.

The other thing worth learning is how to hold your hand......many players injure themselves. I discovered a now dead lady in Brooklyn who was a specialist in this. She had a whole school. There are a few videos of her teaching which are really incredible......I'll try to find them.

I did. Dorothy Taubman.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...YW2W3uEZKmzRRx

I came accross Cowling (Gospel Piano Book) in a review of a bunch of random teaching books which are floating around. I started with his presentation of backtracking, just a modulation to IV and back. But his little excercise made some lush sounds appear. The book will take you right to full on choir leading. I am slowing working my through it, a joy, since the sounds are so nice. When I go back to sheet music I am seeing his moves everywhere.

He also shows how just adding the IV and other notes to the bass in a major or minor triad suddenly starts to create complex rich chords.

What do JS Bach and Mattie Moss Clarke have in common? Everything. For real.

If you can already read a bit Michael Hartigan is fantastic in the no-BS, here is the beef genre of keyboard instruction.
https://youtu.be/_sG6RI7aYVQ
He only made a few videos. They are unbelieveable. Unlike my other two heros, he actually is at the top level in video too. But he burned out as youtuber. Very active live player now.
Old 27th February 2020
  #15
Lives for gear
 
jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
There is no such thing as natural talent. There is only time and focus.
i've heard some people say this (probably those with no natural talent), but i don't think that's true at all.
Old 27th February 2020
  #16
Gear Nut
Its funny how poeple can be so different although I know im in a minority, Ive found the exact opposite. Music theory Ive picked up pretty well as I enjoy studying it (Ive alway been a pretty "bookish" sort of guy) where i come unstuck is 've never been able to do anything "by feel" I need to understand theory first and I just dont have any inhernet musical ability
so i have lessons to painfully try and drill into me some actual ability to play
Old 27th February 2020
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Oscar1's Avatar
It is nice to point at Barry Harris's Sixth Diminished System, thanks for that, I never heard about it till now, but I totally disagree that would be anywhere close to a beginner course, unless your definition of beginner is diametrically different than mine.

I'd say it depends what you want. If you want to be a piano player, there are no shortcuts, no youtube videos, no books. Don't let anybody fool you. There is only one way: Teacher and practice like devil. Scales and all that.

If you want to be a keyboard player (and yes you can still be keyboard player on piano) there are thousands of shortcuts. There is no level system and mostly anything goes from one finger melody and 3-finger chords to the whole finger acrobatics and using even your feet.

If you can't read music at all, don't try to do too much. Learn to read a single note melody on treble clef for right hand and use the chord letters to play left hand. Yes - the fake books are great. In a month you can play a good chunk with literally one finger on right and three fingers on left hand. Go from that, start adding. Try to learn reading melody when there are two notes in the clef... etc... the point is to have fun.

Also what really mess up first timers are trying to play in many different key signatures at the same time. Instead of trying to learn how to read and play just 7 notes, which is easy, you make your life too difficult trying to read sharps and flats.
A piano player is not going to learn all scales on the same time, he starts with one scale over and over, add another, practice both over and over, add another, practice 3 ....

So start with C major, play all songs in C major and the 4 popular chords associated with it (C,G,F, Am). Then add songs in one sharp, G major. Then add songs in F major. Each new key degree will also teach you one or max two more new chords to the ones you already know as each degree will overlap with the previous.

Don't sweat if you can't play songs in say Dflat major or B major. Just stick to the simple key degree until it comes naturally. Even professional players have their favourite keys and dislike some other.

Last edited by Oscar1; 27th February 2020 at 05:17 AM..
Old 27th February 2020
  #18
Lives for gear
 
kwaping's Avatar
I think this thread is in the wrong forum, but I'm really thankful for all the info in here.
Old 27th February 2020
  #19
Lives for gear
Latch onto whatever inspires you to keep going, anything that gives you those "a-ha!" moments.
Certain things will just click and suddenly many other things will make sense.

If not, just keep going. There will be periods of drudgery, but it's the long haul that counts.
That long haul is sustained by passion.

Be thankful you have all kinds of resources nowadays.
Previous generations, not so much...

(Freeze this video at 4:06. It's the oldest known melody, from 1400 BCE).

Old 27th February 2020
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
From how they said it they're basically a beginner to playing, so a chart with the keys illustrated would get them playing chords quickly.
Yes, you are right. But that's a way of not really learning things in music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
Save extensive theory for later, especially since it seems like they're wanting to play others' works for now.
The construction of chords is no extensive theory. It's pretty simple.
Simply stack several thirds (minor or major).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
Reading sheet music isn't the gatekeeper to playing music, as much as pretentious clods would have you believe.
Sheet music (notation) is the written language of (western) music.
Don't know why this should not be an important aspect.

Best regards
Old 27th February 2020
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
i've heard some people say this (probably those with no natural talent), but i don't think that's true at all.
Indeed, I know piano and keys came easy for me whereas guitar not so much. Just forget about drums. Maybe it's more so certain instruments click better with certain people.
Old 27th February 2020
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Behrmoog View Post
Yes, you are right. But that's a way of not really learning things in music.


The construction of chords is no extensive theory. It's pretty simple.
Simply stack several thirds (minor or major).



Sheet music (notation) is the written language of (western) music.
Don't know why this should not be an important aspect.

Best regards
This is to get started and make it easy, it doesn't have to be the end.

It can get more extensive than what it sounds like is needed, that is what I meant.

Plenty of guitarists, very successful ones at that, can't read sheet music. It seems like all they want at the moment is to jam along with their favourite songs off the radio, not compose the next Moonlight Sonata, and chords are enough for that.
Old 27th February 2020
  #23
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Rezisehtnys's Avatar
I guess I should throw in the disclaimer I learned to read sheet music first, but sheet music isn't always available nor is it always correct to what's actually being played(especially non-classical music). Many songs are simplified into chords in fake books anyway(along with transcribing the vocals), the only book I have out of a HUGE collection that's accurate to the actual parts played in the songs is a Van Halen "keyboard songbook" from Alfred. Might be a few single scores that're accurate as well, but most are hit and miss too.

At that rate you might as well grab a chord chart and/or learn chords, and find the chords to songs for free off guitar tablatures online. Will have to figure out the actual parts by ear most of the time anyway, since most commercially available sheet music is a joke.
Old 27th February 2020
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
I guess I should throw in the disclaimer I learned to read sheet music first, but sheet music isn't always available nor is it always correct to what's actually being played(especially non-classical music). Many songs are simplified into chords in fake books anyway(along with transcribing the vocals), the only book I have out of a HUGE collection that's accurate to the actual parts played in the songs is a Van Halen "keyboard songbook" from Alfred. Might be a few single scores that're accurate as well, but most are hit and miss too.

At that rate you might as well grab a chord chart and/or learn chords, and find the chords to songs for free off guitar tablatures online. Will have to figure out the actual parts by ear most of the time anyway, since most commercially available sheet music is a joke.
Oh, this is so true.
Sheet music (not classical and mostly not jazz) is most often so wrong.
I made my own sheets for almost every song I play.

Best regards
Old 27th February 2020
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Hm. Posted this in the duplicate thread, but I’ll copypasta it here, and delete the other...

If you don’t know much basic theory, I would suggest starting there. Intervals, consonance and dissonance and resolution, scales, modes, circle of 5ths, triads, extensions, inversions, modulation, etc.

From there, reading music is actually easier, though of course it will take practice. Most things do, that are even worth doing.

Enjoy your journey.

Last edited by pimket; 27th February 2020 at 04:08 PM.. Reason: damn tablet, lol
Old 27th February 2020
  #26
Gear Nut
 
orangecaruption's Avatar
 

In learning to play piano, it's helpful to focus on the mechanical aspects of it in your first few years. We have these human claws and our fingers are not all created equally. The 4th and 5th fingers aren't as strong as the others and not all fingers are the same length, so you'll need to strengthen your fingers and understand fingering patterns that often emphasize the 1st/2nd/3rd fingers and wrapping your thumb under to play scales. Czerny and Hanon books will help guide you.

Think of the piano like a lot of buttons. You need to use your human claws to press those buttons quickly and efficiently. And your left and right hands often need to press different buttons at different times. A good piano player is at first a very good button presser so get that down first.
Old 27th February 2020
  #27
Gear Head
 

Don't Stretch!!!

https://youtu.be/_ahs-hSqo94?t=94

This is "Taubman approach" without the branding

Don't Stab!!!!

https://youtu.be/09y0Pdcp83U?t=130

I said "No such thing as natural talent"
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
i've heard some people say this (probably those with no natural talent), but i don't think that's true at all.
We get to think whatever we want, of course. I just retired from 35 seasons teaching skiing full time. I have taught alot people to do things they were convinced they had no talent for and could not do. That belief is a block in itself for alot of people. I get it in the computer business: "I'm not a computer person" Studies show this is BS.

In skiing there are natural factors, the dominant being confirmation. It's really hard to ski with bowed legs on hard snow. You basically need cants to do it well. Nevertheless many a World Cup ski race has been won by a bow legged person.

In keyboard or any music playing, from beginner to professional, natural talent is not a factor in results. You have people with natural talent who don't play instruments at all. You have near tone-deaf types winning grammies. Sonny and Cher's first hit had one chord.

In olympic athletics scientific training trumps natural talent every time, as in all highly developed sports.

Talent is nothing beside desire. If you truly desire to learn to play well, to the point you are putting other things aside....like answering this post....and you don't give up, you will learn to play well.

There will always be somebody younger, faster and brighter. No matter how much talent you have.

Learning anything well is a lot of work. It's not like looking something up. If you love it and you do it all the time you are going to get pretty good at it. It's going to help alot if you don't get hurt (technique), and you don't get mislead (modes before fluency).
Old 27th February 2020
  #28
Gear Addict
 
Progger's Avatar
This is awesome, good for you! I have many adult piano students from a big range of backgrounds (I teach at a college in Austin and at a local music studio), and some of them have made incredible progress since they started. Talent schmalent, it's definitely just about enjoying it and putting in consistent time and energy. That being said, there's really no substitute for a good teacher! See if you can find one in your area and take a month's worth of lessons to start. That might be enough to get you going, but you also might be hooked after that.

Otherwise, there are some great suggestions in this thread already, and those Hal Leonard books are decent. I usually teach out of the Faber "Adult Piano Adventures" series, it's very well laid-out and it moves fast while explaining things clearly.

If you're into jazz, my friend Noah Kellman has a great YouTube series for jazz and neo-soul piano. He's a fantastic pianist and teacher and his videos are very well done.

Good luck and have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 80snostalgia View Post
Hi all!
Now I'm not musically talented like some people I know, and no matter how much I try reading music just doesn't click.
I'm better at playing by ear.
I'm mainly into Synths and love the noise that can be manipulated but wouldn't mind learning abit of music like we used to as kids?
When music sheets had colours, and Synthesia off YouTube is a help.
I probably need to stick letters on my keys and get a basic book.
Anyone else know easy to play pop music books? Or anyone who can't read music but loves music?
Old 27th February 2020
  #29
Lives for gear
 

To learn how to translate notation into pitches, it's just familiarity and practice. Except at the very beginning, don't write the note letters or chords on the staff. That's handy when you want to learn that particular song quicker. But it's like training wheels.

For learning how to interpret notation into correct timing and rhythms, use a resource where you can hear the examples being played properly while you simultaneously read the notation and play along on a keyboard. Learn when to press the keys, but also when to release the keys. Of course you can have a wall of sound, just like you can have a painting without negative space (or one that's all negative space!). I'm talking about learning rhythms.

In that case, be especially mindful of the open empty silent space between the notes. Woo warning - It's the other side of the coin. It's like the open space between thoughts: so obvious, yet so easy to miss. As rhythm, sound without silence is like intelligence without wisdom. End woo
Old 27th February 2020
  #30
Gear Head
 

Bad habits also trump natural talent every time.

Teaching skiing I was constantly confronted by very athletic people crippled by habits they had learned long ago. To seriously break them, I had to take them back to very fundamental movements, like active stemming of the turning ski. There was huge resistence to this. Only those willing to slow down and learn it right moved forward fundamentally.

At 16 I was travelling all over north Cali playing badminton with my high school team. The US national coach, at my request, watched me. "Only one problem, you are holding the racket wrong". I changed and all my rivals beat me right away. I did not have the patience to re-learn and gave up badminton. When I started tennis, I took a lesson, and made damn sure I got the grip correct, LOL

I played singles tennis 3 days a week most of my life.

Another great video on fundamental technique:
https://youtu.be/ew4PUlVJuGc
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