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Any Piano players out there?

  1. Nov 5, 2012 #1
    I recently started taking piano lessons. I have been wanting to for a long time, but school always got in the way. Now I have all of the time in the world to practice. I have been taking lessons for about a month now and I am really enjoying it. I have played music (flute, french horn, cello, and more) in the past, so some things are coming back.

    I think it is interesting to learn an instrument as an adult and as someone with a scientific background. I am much more mechanical and attentive in the way I study and practice and in the types of questions I ask.

    Just wondering if there are others here who play the piano or any instruments for that matter? If so, I might use this thread to ask you about your experiences.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2012 #2


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    I have played guitar for the last ~45 years or so. I took up keyboards for a year or so about ~20 years ago. I am not fluent in keyboards in any way. Electronic keyboards can be made to conform to some transposition standards, but if you sit in front of a nice old Baldwin or Steinway, you have to do the transposition in your head or have appropriate sheet music at hand.

    Have you considered learning guitar? If you master the control of barre chords and related runs, you can transpose to any key that you want, whenever you want. Guitars are quite portable, and are the most versatile instruments for any single musician to master. (IMO)
  4. Nov 6, 2012 #3

    Ben Niehoff

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    I play piano, although I've never taken lessons. I would put myself at some intermediate skill level. I'm able to learn any piece that isn't extremely fast.

    I would probably be a lot better if I had taken lessons. I built up some bad habits early on that I've had to unlearn. Although, forcing yourself to play things like Beethoven and Mozart will show you pretty quickly that your self-taught fingering techniques are wrong...all those pieces should flow naturally under the hands.

    Now I play with correct fingerings at least most of the time. But I can't be bothered to practice scales. And I use the pedal way too much (another habit I've been unlearning).
  5. Nov 6, 2012 #4


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    Why is that a "bad" habit? (Pardon my ignorance.)
  6. Nov 6, 2012 #5
    Hey I used to play the piano in high school, and when I come home from college I usually get back on to see if my skills have deteriorated at all. For the most part I can still remember some of my favorite songs. I love Chopin, his music is my favorite, and anything ragtime. AND Gerswhin, I ****in love Gershwin.

    If you're looking for any tips, I would say always practice your scales, and do at least two or more octaves on them. Any of course your primary chords.
  7. Nov 6, 2012 #6
    I love playing Maple Leaf Rag.

    My parents had me taking piano lessons at a relatively young age, and I actually turned out to not be extremely horrible at piano, and enjoyed it.

    Eventually, it became a little tedious to take piano lessons, so I stopped going after 8th grade. I do wish that I had continued playing, however, because now I have noticed that I am nowhere near where I used to be (that's what ignoring your piano for upwards of three years will do), but I am definitely interested in playing again.

    As for my experience, there were always recitals every year, but the most complicated piece that I ever played was..... Maple Leaf Rag. My piano teacher actually had me audition for Iowa's Got Talent, and I placed in the top twenty, but that really means nothing. I literally recorded myself playing a song on the piano, sent it in, and they basically said, "Why not? Come on down and play it here." There were nineteen other people, and only five people placed, none of whom were me. It was still fun nevertheless, and playing in front of people is very rewarding, because so long as you manage to play your song in a halfway decent fashion and don't mess up horribly, everyone seems to enjoy it.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  8. Nov 6, 2012 #7
    Well, you really only use the pedal when you're supposed to. All that I can assume is that he uses it when he isn't supposed to be using it.

    Using it when you shouldn't can sometimes make everything run together and sound pretty horrible, as well.
  9. Nov 6, 2012 #8
    I played the piano for years. I ended up quitting because I was one of those people who were forced by their parents to play. Ironically they gave me the choice to begin with but then they wouldn't let me stop even after years of disinterest and whining. Wasted money...

    I just started to learn the guitar now and I find it miles easier than the piano. I'm not sure if it's because I have a music background now or because I got older and "understood" how to approach it better.

    I haven't played for a while though and it's frustrating having to re-learn the songs again.
  10. Nov 7, 2012 #9
    Excellent choice of course. Strangely enough, I never sat down and took the time to learn it. A lot of the times I didn't learn a piece because I was too lazy to go out and get the music for it. I also am pretty picky about how music is printed; I think I get intimidated by music that is printed in such a way that the notes are really close together, it just makes it look more overwhelming than it really is.
  11. Nov 9, 2012 #10
    Oh yesss ... the piano days. My aunt used to be my piano teacher many years ago and she'd make me practice in school days from 11pm to 1-2am ;).
  12. Nov 9, 2012 #11


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    Piano and guitar
  13. Nov 10, 2012 #12

    Jonathan Scott

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    I've been playing the piano as a hobby since age 6 (that makes 50 years now).

    Just an amateur (day job is computers) but I've got quite a long way over the years. I've played orchestral piano with a couple of orchestras and been rehearsal soloist for about a dozen different piano concertos and similar works (e.g. Rhapsody in Blue). Most fun was performing Rach 2 first movement a couple of years ago at a public evening of concerto movements. Also did Grieg first movement a few years earlier at similar event at a school, but in that case the piano was quite out of tune so the experience was not so pleasant.

    Mostly play the violin now (regularly with two amateur orchestras and occasionally with some others), also occasionally viola. Wife plays cello in same orchestras. More opportunities for stringed instruments than for piano solo.
  14. Nov 10, 2012 #13
    I've been playing the piano for about 3 years. I love it too! I find it super relaxing. The best thing about it is since I've started playing the piano I learned so much more music. I learned about classical music and jazz.

    Here is for example an inspiring talk about classical music:
    Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music
  15. Nov 11, 2012 #14
    Wow! Lots of musicians here! I love it.

    That's great! I tried to learn cello while in school; it was too overwhelming. Stringed instruments are a whole other beast. Don't get me wrong when I say this, but anybody can hit a key on a piano and get the correct sound. It doesn't require any particular talent to make the piano sound the way it is supposed to. 'Press the key' --> 'Out come the appropriate sound'. All of the difficulty of making the sound has been abstracted away from the user. The violin or viola on the other hand ... you could be a looking at a year or two of practice just to get a note to sound the way it is supposed too. Then, on top of that, you have to learn to play music.

    The piano gives me just enough immediate gratification to keep me interested. Maybe someday I will try the cello again.

    I too find it relaxing. Even when it is frustrating, it is relaxing. It's gotten me interested in the math and physics behind music. I am hoping to learn a lot more about it. I'll check out the link; thanks!
  16. Nov 11, 2012 #15


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    I had a GF in college who played cello. It was a fun instrument, though after she told me what her parents paid for a "student" instrument, I was less than enthused.
  17. Nov 11, 2012 #16

    Chi Meson

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    I am still working on the Goldberg variations. I'm up to #10 (20 to go, including the ponderous middle ones) and this one just sounds lousy because I can't get Glen Gould's performance out of my head. 1 through 3 were "easy."

    Number 5 kicked my butt (at half the speed Mr. Gould plays it).

    notice how at 0:27, the two hands play through each other..... :eek:
    I also did the Aria, which sounds nothing like GG.
    I skipped ahead to # 30, also. Trouble is, I can't keep any more than 3 in my head at one time. I can't sightread this stuff because I need to concentrate with where my fingers go.

    Speaking of fingering, that's part of the fun. Goldberg Variations usually come without fingering suggestions, which makes it like a puzzle you need to figure out just to play all the notes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  18. Nov 11, 2012 #17


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    There are no bad habits. Every player is different. Some things like pedal are a matter of taste. However, it is good to learn things in several different ways, for example, to learn to achieve a legato without "cheating" with the pedal, and also to achieve "finger" pedal. These different ways with slightly different sounds increase the range of "tools" you have. But in the end, the only thing that matters is: is what you are saying accurate and true, and are you saying it sincerely? By accuracy, I mean is the sound the same as what you hear first in your head? Also, never hesitate to cheat if no one can hear it:)
  19. Nov 11, 2012 #18


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    That's Mr Gould's fault, for trying to play a piece written for a 2-manual harpsichord on a 1-manual piano. Bach even gave instructions for each variation whether to use 1 or 2 manuals, for those too challenged to work it out for themselves!

    They are much easier to play on the origianal instrument than on a modern piano.

    If you want to have fun with harpsichord music on a piano, try Scarlatti. Almost everything he wrote was for a 1-manual instrument - but his idea of "fun" is one hand going wild in the middle of the keyboard, and the other playing alternate notes at each end with 3- or 4-octave skips between. No need to go to an aerobics class to keep fit, if you practice some of that every day. Sample page (in the original hand-written glorious technicolor) attached. The notes marked M in red are all for the left hand.

    Attached Files:

  20. Nov 11, 2012 #19


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    Wow you are evil :devil::smile: Repeated notes easier than adapting the Goldbergs to one manual?
  21. Nov 11, 2012 #20


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    That's true in a sense, but the problem is that people don't necessarily realize what are the full range of options available, without some teaching to steer them.

    For example with piano pedalling, many people's instinctive idea is to press the pedal at the same time as they play some notes. Actually, that's backwards, and the real technique is to RELEASE the pedal as you play some notes, then press it down again. You don't need to watch people to find out if they never discovered that (or never learned how to do it) - just listen to the sounds they make.

    If course if you learn how to do it "properly" and then choose not to, that's fine. Choosing a particular option isn't the same as not knowing there WERE any options!
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