Selected and arranged by Graham Lyons
STARTING PIANO FROM SCRATCH AS AN ADULT no.1
Here is a simple test to discover whether you are likely to enjoy playing the piano–“enjoy” meaning “getting musical satisfaction from”.
You'll have to sit in front of a piano for this test. But never mind, if you don't own a piano nor have friendly neighbours with one, but are really keen, here's what to do:
Buy a second-hand 49-key piano. I've seen them on sale from £19 to £65. Perfectly good enough for this test and perfectly good enough for your first six months.
Want to upgrade, or give up? Sell; you've lost little dosh and had the use of a piano for 6 months.
It involves both hands, but one at a time.
2. second finger
3. third finger
4. (you've guessed it) fourth finger
5. fifth finger
On the keyboard, you can see the black notes are grouped in twos and threes. Go to the two-note group nearest the middle of the keyboard. Place your thumb on the white note labeled 1.
Slowly, at your own pace, play notes 1 down to 5 and back again repeatedly. After a while, sing, hum, or whistle the notes as you play them.
The quality of your voice doesn't matter a jot; what does matter is that you try to hear the note in your mind before you play it.
The Blue Danube - click here for audio
Now listen to the audio above. You may already know the tune; it's the main theme of the Blue Danube Waltz, repeated three times. When the tune is thoroughly in your head, dive into the deep end and play it.
* Keep your fingers on their allotted keys.
* Correct wrong notes entirely by ear; avoid this type of thinking:"Was the third note of the tune finger 3 or 4?”, “Which key do I play for the 5th note?".
* If you play a wrong note, mentally hear the right note (if you can't, then start again). Experiment until you land on the right note.
Go to the group of notes but this time they have different numbers, so place your thumb on 1.
As before, play notes 1 to 5 up and down, and sing, hum or whistle the notes as you play.
Listen to the Blue Danube audio again (if necessary), and play the tune with your right hand.
*Keep your fingers on their allotted keys.
*Correct wrong notes entirely by ear; avoid this type of thinking: “Was the third note of the tune finger 3 or 4?”, “Which key do I play for the 5th note?”, etc.
*If you play a wrong note, hear the right note in your mind (if you can't, start again), then experiment until you land on the right note.
You may have noticed I haven't even mentioned note names, rhythms, and many other things to do with reading music.
I believe it is not only unnecessary to teach music notation early, it is also harmful. But that's a B (and other notes) in my bonnet; the subject for a later blog.
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