I started learning piano in July 2018. My instrument is a 61-key XINYUE brand keyboard priced at 230 CNY, or about 35 dollars. It is the cheapest keyboard here. And unsurprisingly, it felt so bad when I first tried it, even worse than normal computer keyboards at my home. The reason I didn’t buy good keyboard at first is that I was not sure whether I would love learning and playing piano. I will buy a good one when I am determined to play it.
And soon (on the 3rd day) I regret my choice. I tried a keyboard in my neighbor’s house. It felt much much better than my garbage keyboard. The key felt softer to push, like a cherry brown switch. I could easily push 3 keys at the same time without using too much power, which felt so hard pushing my own ones. The keyboard’s brand was Yamaha, priced at 2000 CNY, about 300 dollars. I thought I would have bought at least one of a big brand.
According to ピアノ演奏に88鍵は必須なのか？ ～73鍵でも弾ける曲がどれだけあるかを本気で検証, 45.8% of 424 songs from recent piano magazines can be played by 61 keys. On the other hand, 86.6% can be played by 73 keys.
On the 7th day, I finally decided to refund and buy a new one. I went for Roland Go:Keys.
I don’t like to be taught but to learn freely, so I go to find piano learning materials suitable for self-learning. Because I think piano may be hard to learn just from books, I make the video tutorial to be my major one, and then plus several books for more piano sheets for practice and avoiding being boring.
- Pianoforall - Incredible Way To Learn Piano & Keyboard: A series of tutorials teaching piano. FFP’s recommended piano tutorial software website recommends this tutorial. It says Piano4All teaches in a different way. It doesn’t teach you to read and play at first. Instead it teaches chords first and encourage improvisation. I think it fits for me. Has 30 days full refund and software kept on the main website, priced at 40$. Udemy is cheaper, at about 10$. It is always on special sell. I had saw 9.99$, 11.99$, 13.99$ and I bought at 11.99$.
- Alfred’s Self-Teaching Adult Piano Course: The new, easy and fun way to teach yourself to play, Book & CD: I use this book mainly for reference. When feel bored of practicing chords, play the songs in this book to have some fun. Also learn some scale beforehand.
- Fundamental of Piano Practice: Seems to be the bible of piano learning. It is free to download.
- Elementary Method for the Piano, Op. 101 (Alfred Masterwork Edition): This contains many short piano pieces. Very good for practice. There are different pieces require you play at different octaves, which may help you get familiar with different octaves. Also, I find the sheets in MuseScore, credits to the author.
Burgmüller – 25 Progressive Pieces, Op. 100: Book & CD (Alfred Masterwork CD Edition): The songs in this book is, I think, too difficult for absolute beginners, but I try to play a little and feel the songs are good, which makes me want to improve my skill to play these songs. After Note: Can play first song in 3 days in my first to second weeks of piano learning.
FREE piano online lessons for BEGINNERS: This YouTube piano lessons are very short and easy to learn. Though the book is not cheap for me. I think the quality is great. (returned)新韵电子琴入门教程 (XINYUN Keyboard Tutorial): This book is an addition to my keyboard. Not of much use.
- (Japanese)DTM超初心者講座: Valuable desktop music tutorial. Not for this stage.
Here comes my problems when learning piano and how to deal with it by myself.
On the 3rd day I feel my right hand is always reaching to the left and has a little pain. I find that the C key in 61 key keyboard is a little left of the center.
Siting slightly left can deal with this problem.
After Note: Maybe because I only played that 2 octave at that time, which was changed after I switched to another tutorial. That is Piano4All. It makes my hands moving a lot.
Don’t read notes one by one. Reading notes 1 bar at a time may be better. And if I can, read ahead.
Also, from FPP (The Fundamental of Piano Practice), I will play better if I do reading and memorization at the same time.
This days I am learning and playing chords. Pushing multiple keys at the same time requires some power, and if I play a lot, my hands start to be painful. I search and find out that maybe I am still pushing too hard when the keys are down. I will try to relax my hands where possible.
If I play several hours nonstop, my back feels painful. I am trying to deal with this problem.
- How To Use The Sustain Pedal on PIANO / Keyboard: This teaches the basic mechanism and what feet are exactly doing for the very beginner.
- Using your piano’s sustain pedal: This also teaches you where you can use the pedal and the difference of pedal between pianos.
- Sustain Pedal - SIMPLE exercise gets you using the piano sustain pedal… NOW: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Best explanation for the sustain pedal. Require basic knowledge of chords.
From my question:
I have finished section 3, and the chords are so many to practice. It is inversions which involve black keys that are specially hard, because although the hand gestures(?) are similar, they aren’t like chords just with white keys, but need to figure out to push whether the white or black key, and which finger to.
I practiced them for several days and didn’t move on to touch new knowledge in section 4, but the progress is slow. If I play all the practice in section 3, it will take 2 hours and it is boring (maybe because I don’t know most of the songs?). I feel I shouldn’t stop and just practice chords, and it seems endless.
I wonder to what extent I need to practice, and then it is good to learn something new? Section 4 seems still to let us learn and practice new chords, so I think the old chords also can be practiced? In addition, most of the practices in the lessons only train the right hand (because of the rhythm). Would it better to also train the left hand? So invert hands to let left hand play chords?
Instructor Robin’s Answer:
It’s fine to move on but just keep including previous exercises in your daily practice
You have probably moved too fast and not applied the chords to enough songs
If you don’t know the songs find them on youtube and familiarise yourself with them
The circle of fifths/inversions exercise at the end of section 3 is the quickest way to learn the chords - but applying them to songs is even better
Move on to section 4 and don’t worry from section 5 onwards your left hand will be playing the chords and patterns and your right hand will be playing the melody lines and improvisations
Just trust the course
I find a video in NiceChord channel on YouTube introducing ear training. It recommends several ear training website/software. I decide to use EarMaster.
I find there is a free book in EarMaster teaching music theory.