View Full Version : Anyone ever tried to learn to play piano?

eastern wiseguy
21st Aug 2010, 22:06
Mrs EW has bought me a rather nice keyboard. I have no idea how to play it. Has anyone here any tips or tricks for a middle aged Billy Joel wannabee?

DX Wombat
21st Aug 2010, 23:00
Can you read music? If not, then either buy a simple book from your nearest [preferably classical] music shop which may also be able to provide a list of locally based piano teachers.

21st Aug 2010, 23:12

Well, everyone has to start somewhere . . .

However, you could manage this:-

21st Aug 2010, 23:39
As if the Great Highland Bagpipe and folk guitar were't enough, now you want me to play the piano? Nah!

Loose rivets
22nd Aug 2010, 00:26
I'm sure the buggah has more fingers than normal people!

Just to rub it in, at >1:50 he slides into the one piece of music that made me give up trying to play. Mind you, none of the big names seem to quite get it right, not compared to Walter Gieseking.

Tell us a little more about the keyboard.

I've posted on my joy and frustrations at trying to learn at a late age. Started by me tuning my daughter's piano, and working on an electronic system to tune concert grands in a noisy environment. Needless to say, I just had to try to play.

Don't look at hands- well, at least make that the aim. Try simple reading, but just learn some fun pieces by wrote.

Try very hard to NOT do what I did, and rely too much on muscle memory. Really try to memorize the 'position of the sounds.'

Practice simple scales. They are essential.

Run a CD, with the remote at hand. Go over and over parts, really listening.

Now, t'net gives something I would have given me Bethoven finger for. A camera that simply follows the music. Quite a few popular classics have been done, and it's a tremendous help to learning to read.

22nd Aug 2010, 00:52
When you are sick of für Elise, try this (and you will be getting somewhere when you can play it!)

A more complicated version (for use when you have mastered the above):-

22nd Aug 2010, 01:05


22nd Aug 2010, 01:10




galaxy flyer
22nd Aug 2010, 02:35
Tried, failed and that is the short story as to why I am in aviation, not working at a brothel or saloon.


Um... lifting...
22nd Aug 2010, 03:09

Your mother must be so disappointed.

Loose rivets
22nd Aug 2010, 04:41
Family kind of took over the Driscol hotel in Austin, (Broke then, but very grand now.) I had little to do but supply the computers to the clients that turned up each month.

There was a 9' grand in the foyer outside the Continental restaurant, and another on the mezzanine floor. Good state of tune, both of them.

If I was Pye-sed, I could play badly at the few guests that still used the pub. If I was sober, I couldn't muster the nerve. That kind of standard.

One night I came in and the lower one had the lid removed, and a glass/perspex one put in its place. Big silver things with bits of chicken and dips were boiling away on the top. I didn't let a minor thing like this discourage me...but I did put on a heck of a lot of weight. :}

Austin was a fabulous place before it became overcrowded.

Oh, and then there was Strait Music Sp? A vast expanse of grand pianos were washed away in a rainstorm. I mean grand. One was a German Bosendorfer, Fantastic...but gone. Only one was ever found.

(Maybe why there's a lot of Mexican concert pianists that play out of tune.)

Oh, another thing. I rushed back to the office and fairly bellowed that the lady there had asked: "Who do you study under?" The answer tumbled in on me before I got an answer. She said that to all the string kickers. D'oh:ugh:

22nd Aug 2010, 11:38
A good start...

YouTube - Jerry Lee Lewis Great Balls of Fire - Rock (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lidFipyLG8k&feature=search)

22nd Aug 2010, 11:42
The white keys make you laugh, the black ones make you cry. True enough is that.:)

22nd Aug 2010, 11:44

Pure evil. Does wonders for your abilities though. :E

Seriously though. If you are genuinely ab-initio to the piano, get yourself a good teacher to give you the kick start you need, otherwise you will pick up all sorts of nasty bad habits that will be difficult to shake off.

Gentleman Jim
22nd Aug 2010, 16:52
This is a very funny thread. We have the OP saying he has just been gifted a keyboard and admits he has absolutely no idea how to play it, and asks for ideas, and we have folks offering advice as to how to get started by playing 'The Entertainer' and 'Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire'!!

eastern wiseguy

The problem you will face at your age is a fairly straight forward one in that it will be difficult to learn to read music on both the Treble and Bass Clef.

You should be able to learn a little by watching some of the You tube ' press these keys videos', but that will not allow you to be at one with the instrument. The advice on getting a teacher and once established practicing the discipline of various scales over and over again is sound. Strive for hours and hours to learn to read music, and teach the old dog new tricks by learning that the left and right hand can do different things at the same time!

Good luck and enjoy. I know someone who started at your age and within 2 years was able to play this:


If you can give 1-2 hours EVERY day it will be worth it if this is your achievement.

Good luck, but most of all just enjoy.

22nd Aug 2010, 17:08
The encouragement to learn the Scott Joplin pieces is because they are relatively simple musically yet sound impressive when played and it is important to have some sign of progress.

Scales are all very well (and important) but if it's possible to play something recognisable (other than Twinkle Twinkle and other nursery rhymes) then I believe that's the way to go . . .

Gentleman Jim
22nd Aug 2010, 17:31

Joplin is easy....when you have learned the basics. Until then it may as well be a
Tchaikovsky piano concerto. As boring as it is, them fingers have to know their way around the ivories! Those that can play forget that. Just my opinion of course, and you may be right. I learn differently.:ok:

Loose rivets
22nd Aug 2010, 18:24
Okay Jim. Who played Clair de Lune and what on?

Gentleman Jim
22nd Aug 2010, 18:46
Well Loose, I guess I just have to leap from memory and say Debussy, and whilst he was a fan of strings, this was written for Piano. AFAIK!

22nd Aug 2010, 19:01
Wasn't Clair de Lune an actress from the 1940s?

22nd Aug 2010, 19:12
Debussy, and whilst he was a fan of strings, this was written for Piano. AFAIK!

A Joanna of course is a stringed instrument. it's also a percussion instrument, so it's the same as the drums.:)

22nd Aug 2010, 19:44
I started once but due to lack of time I decided to give it a second chance when I retire. Well, that's another 32 years to go or even more in case our government moves retirement beyond age 67 :sad:

Gentleman Jim
22nd Aug 2010, 20:23

Wasn't Clair de Lune an actress from the 1940s?

Well, I have no idea really, but that is certainly nothing to do with the piece by Debussy is it? Nor indeed the link I gave you.

Loose rivets
22nd Aug 2010, 20:44
I think that was Clare the loonie.

Well Loose, I guess I just have to leap from memory and say Debussy, and whilst he was a fan of strings, this was written for Piano. AFAIK!

Okay, okay . . . Who was playing that particular rendition in your clip, and what was the instrument being used for that particular rendition wot you posted?

i.e. was it a genuine piano, or as I think might be the case, an electronic device with particularly good low-end sound bites.

22nd Aug 2010, 21:54
Do not get your other half to buy you an introductory set of lessons.

Mine did and the music school folded before I took the first one. :mad:

I'll stick with the harmonica.

22nd Aug 2010, 21:59
VERY impressive - especially the videos! :ooh: I'd never have thought you'll get instruction for playing the piano from the net.

However - first make sure your fingers are not too big for just one key. A friend of mine claims that's why he had to quit - always hit two of them at a time (and his hands are impressive, to be honest). Then discus-throwing would be a suitable option.

22nd Aug 2010, 22:21
Has anyone here any tips or tricks for a middle aged Billy Joel wannabee?

Yes, don't allow your son's pet hamster eat the power cable or the keyboard will be consigned to the loft unplayed, for ten years, like mine! :rolleyes:

23rd Aug 2010, 03:06
Teaching yourself can get you into some very bad habits which then have to be unlearned -- many months with Madame Metronome:{

Finding the right teacher can be the hard part -- then the neurological torture will begin:E

23rd Aug 2010, 05:50
It's bl**dy hard. If you have some natural gift maybe it's easier or even easy, but you'd probably know about that by now. I tried about 20 years ago, bought myself a fancy Yamaha full-size keyboard and persevered for about three years, with a teacher and everything. I could play simple scales and hunt and pick my way through easy stuff, but I don't think I ever produced anything that could be called music. I still have the keyboard, though latterly it's under a spare bed.

Compared to the piano, all of the following are a piece of cake:

-- skiing (though I eventually abandoned that after I broke myself one time too many, which never happened with the piano)
-- flying
-- instrument flying
-- flying helicopters
-- speaking Japanese
-- reading Japanese

My advice would be, spend the money you would have spent on lessons on CDs of your favourite piano music. With what you have left over (quite a bit) buy yourself a few cases of decent plonk. Drink plonk while listening to CDs. You'll enjoy it all a lot more.


23rd Aug 2010, 07:04
Listen to Art Tatum. Then give up trying to learn. Not being negative but most musically gifted people [to me that is anyone who can play anything and make a tune] seem to be born with the essential requirements and then enhance these skills as they grow up.

I picked Art Tatum because a lot of gifted classical and jazz piano players speak highly of his talent. Even more so when listening and you realise he was blind.

YouTube - Art Tatum -- Little Man You've Had a Busy Day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HkGAFDE3wI&feature=related)

Horowitz was one of Art's biggest fans. Actually cried with emotion during an interview when describing the talent of Art Tatum.

23rd Aug 2010, 11:16
Or how about this.

My piano but not me playing.

YouTube - Keyboard Adlib Genius1.m2p (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUP36mDI85o)

or how about

YouTube - Black and White Rag (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJx1jry3Ev8)

23rd Aug 2010, 13:10
Probably marks me down as a peasant but I think the enthusiastic piano just makes this track.


23rd Aug 2010, 16:16
I think the enthusiastic piano just makes this track.
I agree!

Whoever it was playing that 'black and white rag' is very good. Is it you, nomorecatering?

It reminded me of Winifred Attwell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winifred_Atwell) (who must have been one of the first black performers on British TV - apart from in films).
I see that her 'other piano' was purchased for fifty shillings (£2.50). You could buy a new suit for that amount back then . . .

Jimmy Macintosh
23rd Aug 2010, 16:24
I started learning last year, love it, though I have less time due to work commitments.

I have no affiliation with either of these but I have found them both very good and helpful.

Pianoforall and Rocketpiano. I bought both, used PFA first it gave me a sense of achievement (playing semi recognisable tunes very quickly) then I wanted to learn to play the piano properly and moved onto Rocketpiano.

Have fun!