Learning to Play the Piano – Discover 10 Fantastic Benefits of Learning the Piano

By   January 23, 2015

Learning to play the piano is a great hobby to take up. Whether you are 7 or 70, making music is a skill for life. Discover 10 fantastic benefits of learning the piano.

#1 – Playing the piano is an active hobby which will stimulate your mind as well as exercise your fingers.

#2 – Learning to read music opens a doorway into the wealth of piano sheet music. Whether you want to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or songs from a Broadway Musical, once you have learned how to read music the choice is virtually limitless.

#3 – You can learn all different styles of music, from Classical Piano to Boogie Woogie!

#4 – Playing the piano increases your co-ordination skills. You will gradually develop your dexterity and soon you will be able to play different rhythms in different hands.

#5 – You will never feel bored again. The piano is like a constant companion in life. Unlike people, it is never too busy!

#6 – De-stress at the end of the day with a few relaxing melodies. Piano music soothes the soul.

#7 – Entertain your friends! Once you can play a few pieces, pluck up the courage to play in front of your family and friends. Imagine playing a few carols at Christmas with everyone gathered round, singing out of tune!

#8 – Try creating a simple tune. Pick out a few notes and see what you can create. You never know, there could be a budding composer inside you, waiting to be discovered.

#9 – Play with other musicians. If you are a member of a church, they often run a music group. It is a great way of meeting new people.

#10 – You will be able to fulfill your dream and say, with all honesty, “I can play the piano!”

Beautiful Music – Create It Yourself with New Age Piano

By   January 21, 2015

You’ve heard it many times before. Perhaps while you were out shopping or at a friends house. The beautiful music that has become known as New Age piano was first popularized by pianist/composer George Winston in the early 1980’s.

Light and heartfelt, the melodies and chords of this piano style are not difficult to create. It’s an attractive way for the beginning AND more advanced piano player to get started in music making! Let’s examine how a complete beginner can create a lovely melody using just a few chords.

First, we must learn how to play chords on the piano. Note reading won’t do here because we’re trying to create something original – something that requires the ability to improvise. Now don’t get scared! Improvisation is a lot easier than you think and you can produce beautiful music with just a few chords.

For example, in the lesson “Reflections in Water,” available below, we use just 4 chords to create a calm, reflective atmosphere. The trick is how the chords are used! Both hands are called into play as we create a modern sounding open position seventh chord – the kind of chord that is used in much contemporary music created today.

We learn how to play just four chords in this lesson, but four chords are all we need to produce a few minutes of improvised music. Once you have this large chord structure under your fingers, beautiful music is created; not by forcing or willing the creative act, but BY ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN!

We take our time and play around with this chord structure and marvel at how easy it is to create music with it. It’s not difficult. It’s not hard. It can be a little scary to jump in and begin improvising but once you taste how wonderful the water is, you’ll jump in and have a hard time coming out!

Learning How To Read Piano Music Correctly

By   January 20, 2015

Many people have tried to learn a musical instrument and did not find success due to the complicated books and learning methods used. Every day people search for learning how to read piano music correctly on the Internet, but there are not many resources that teach the best way to accomplish this.

Private teachers have ineffective teaching methods for learning to play a musical instrument. While learning notes are important, it does not help to learn a full song. Learning each note individually allows a person to learn very rapidly and they can use this knowledge to learn any song.

The creation of notated musical notes includes written information that a composer wrote to allow the song to be played on several instruments. It is easy to memorize these musical notes and they never change regardless of the instrument. The most popular notes are whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth and sixteenth notes that are notated on the written staff.

Along with the placements of each note on the staff each note can have different tones on the piano. Notes can be sharp, flat, diminished, augmented, seventh, major seventh, and minor notes. These variations depend on which note exists in the musical scale of the key of the song that is played.

Learning the right way how to read music beings with this accurate information. The notes are located in a series of lines and spaces. There are 5 lines and 4 spaces that include the notes of the treble clef. From the bottom up, they are E, G, B, D, and F. The easiest way to remember these notes is repeating the words Every Good Boy Does Fine.

Any note that is in between the lines is always F, A, C, E. This phrase spells the word “FACE” and is easily remembered. The key signature of the song will determine if the notes will have special meanings like sharps or flats. Advanced musical staffs have an additional musical staff called the bass clef that lists the bass notes that exist on the lower octave of the instrument keys.

The treble clef is easiest to learn when finding out how to read piano music online. The notes never change the name or type. The tempo or keys are the only changes that are made in modern sheet musical notation.

Piano Artist Finds Inspiration for Website

By   January 19, 2015

In 2003, Chuck Brown had a lot going on in his life. His father’s health was in decline and had been for a couple years. It seemed like he was suffering setback after setback. This meant that Chuck was spending a good deal of time every day in hospitals, convalescent centers, doctor’s offices and at physical rehab…and therefore, around people whose lives were in some level of crisis. And he began to notice a common thread: “Everywhere people were spending lots of time, especially as their health declined…there was music. People whose active memories had broken down and whose ability to communicate had seemingly completely failed them would begin singing along with songs on the radio from their much younger days. A man who had become unable to take any further nourishment (but who had also asked that no heroic measures be taken to keep him alive) was alone in a room accompanied day and night only by beautiful music playing at a rather high volume on a boom box. It was all really quite striking.”

Chuck Brown had been writing songs at that point for nearly 30 years…releasing two albums of solo piano music along the way, with a third one in the works. Now, if there’s a style of music that travels really well, appealing to all ages and to fans of most musical styles, it has to be solo piano music. The new age style of piano music had taken form in the early 1980s with the release of George Winston’s album, December…a collection of Christmas standards rendered in gentle, flowing piano arrangements released on the newly-formed Windham Hill record label. Others had followed over the years, including John Tesh and Jim Brickman. And Chuck Brown…who had found it a perfect vehicle for his melodic, inspiring compositional style.

He was sitting in his father’s hospital room when the thought came to him: “Why not a gift of music…for those who are going through the kind of struggles that often separate us from human contact? Those who are sick and bed-ridden at the hospital or at home…those who are caring for someone, or who have recently lost someone and are grieving…”. And as he sat in the chair next to his father’s bed, he logged on with his PDA and discovered that the domain name HealingPiano.com was available. He registered it then and there….and over the next few days, put together a simple web site featuring free MP3 downloads of some of his solo piano music.

By this time, his first album (released in 1997) was nearly out of print. His second album had found a friendly audience in new age radio, and he was trying to find time to finish his third album while his father was still around to hear it. Soon he had added 16 songs to the site…and over the next few months, those who had visited the site and downloaded the music started sending in their comments:
“I listened to your piano solo ‘remind me to breathe’ and it brought tears to my eyes. (hard for a guy to admit that)”

“Thank you for your gracious gift of love through your music. I work with Alzheimer’s patients and the soothing sounds you’ve enabled me to give to them is not only extremely therapeutic, but truly a gateway to the soul. Your music has given a greater gift than you could know. Peace and tranquility is a rarity amongst my friends at Emmanuel. Thank you!!!”

“I’ve enjoyed hearing you play. It is very soothing and relaxing and your sound is very beautiful. I’ve had a tough time since my surgery and my Mother has lost her Mother in death this year and her Father is on his death bed. This music is very comforting right now. Thanks so much.”

“I teach emotionally disturbed and behaviorally disordered high schoolers. The power of your music I downloaded from Healing Piano has an almost magical effect on my students. I’ve bought countless classical CD’s, but I can put on one of these when I sense their tension rising and a peace comes over them, anger dissipates and the most hyperactive and attention deficit of them all are just…calm. I thank you.”

There’s no mystery here to Chuck Brown: “When I write music, I honestly am only a part of the process of creating the music. Music comes from somewhere else…someONE else, I believe. I am touched so often by it myself. It’s just a delight to hear from people who are touched by something that I was a part of creating. And I love the fact that the internet means I can make it available without an admission fee. We get gouged everywhere these days. Sure, it costs money to have a web site. But I make a little bit of money back on the site…and that’s enough for me. The comments I get back about the music and the site are worth much more than big dollars or big record sales ever could be!”

5 Sources of Piano Sheet Music

By   January 18, 2015

If you’ve just started playing piano, you’re probably always on the lookout for some new sheet music to add to your collection. Here are five places to look for music that you’ll enjoy playing.

Music stores

This one is a bit of no-brainer, but local music stores are a great place to get sheet music. It can be a tad expensive, but the better stores will have a great selection. Look for the good stores on Yelp, or ask piano teachers in your area where they get their music. Most will be happy to help.

Craigslist, eBay

There are lots of piano players out there who have paid lots of money for music over the years that they no longer play, or perhaps they passed away and left stacks of music to their family. Regardless, you can often find some great deals on used sheet music on eBay and Craigslist. Be sure to buy from reputable buyers, but this can be a great way to score some real bargains, especially on hard-to-find pieces.

Sheet music sites

There are thousands of websites out there offering sheet music that you can either buy and have shipped to you, or in some cases you can simply print it out at home. This level of convenience was not available to piano players just ten years ago, and you should be able to find almost any music you want. There’s even a wealth of free sheet music available; it’s hard to get a better deal than that. Get a binder and start printing!

Garage sales

Depending on your area, garage sales can be another great source for music. Scan the classifieds for any mention of garage sales with anything music related for sale, as the chances are good they’ll have some music for sale as well. You can often get these for next to nothing.

Write your own!

I know it seems crazy, but you can actually write your own sheet music. If you have a good ear and you know the basics of musical notation, you can often deduce the notes and chords for songs and record them on blank music notation paper that you can get at any music store. This can be a great way to prepare for writing your own music someday.

One of the keys to sticking with piano is playing things you enjoy, and there’s no better way to get that kind of enjoyment and variety than always adding sheet music to your collection.

Breakthrough Piano Playing Method Makes Improvising with Chords Easy and Fun!

By   January 16, 2015

Have you ever walked by a piano and wondered “how can anyone make sense of all those keys?” If that’s you, then you’re going to love this.

Listen, 16 years ago I was in the same boat. You see, I was a guitar player and the thought of actually making music at the piano seemed way out there. In fact, the whole idea that anyone could make heads or tales of all those keys always amazed me.

But, I did enjoy the piano – especially the solo piano music of George Winston. I loved his music and wondered if I could create like that. I then started my journey of musical discovery. At that time, it led me to all my local libraries in the city of San Diego. I hit local libraries, college libraries… anywhere there were books on music.

And do you know what I discovered? Very little! That’s right.

There was a pitiful amount of information available on how to improvise and create your own music. Oh, there were books on how to compose. But most of these authors assumed you already knew counterpoint and other higher-level harmony knowledge taught at colleges.

What a disappointment!. But my luck was about to change. Just by chance, I happened upon a very slim volume at San Diego State University. I forget the name of the title (it was a long time ago) but basically, the book showed you how to play chord changes within a given framework. That framework was something called phrases. Four-bar phrases, eight-bar phrases, etc.

Anyway, playing chords within these phrases taught me how to improvise. How? Because it solved the problem of repetition and contrast! I didn’t have to think about when to change chords or where I would be playing them. The chord chart took care of that! Now all I had to do to improvise and create my own music was to come up with chord changes of my own.

Here’s the thing… learning how to play chords is the first step towards creative piano playing. But you also have to know what to do with these chords. The chord chart solves this problem and gives you a template upon which you can chart out your own unique arrangements!

Jazz Piano Lessons – A Whole New Approach

By   January 14, 2015

Jazz. Just the word alone sounds musical. If you’re looking for jazz piano lessons and a new way to play jazz piano, read on!

For the most part, jazz piano lessons begin with the study of chords. And that’s a good thing! But chords alone will not help you make music. Sure, chords are important. But so is the other half of learning piano improvisation and that has everything to do with TRUSTING YOUR INTUITION!

This is where the usual jazz piano lesson routine falls apart. You’re taught chords yes. But what do you do with these chords? You create music with them.

Now, most jazz students have as their goal, the ability to comp. They want to be part of a trio or duo or some other combination of musical group. The most common of these is the jazz trio. Here we have keyboards, bass, and drums. And this makes a very nice combo. But if you’re interested in playing solo, you have a different problem.

The solo jazz pianist has to not only know how to play chords, but how to read from a lead sheet. A lead sheet gives you the chord symbols and the melody line and that is all you need to create your own arrangements.

There are many fine books out there for the aspiring jazz pianist to learn the art of soloing. But one thing most of these books don’t teach you is how to improvise and compose YOUR OWN MUSIC!

It’s no surprise that there’s a shortage on this kind of instruction. It’s not in high demand. As I mentioned before, most jazz pianists in training want to learn how to play in a group setting. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to learn how to compose your own music?

If you understand and can play 4 and 8-bar phrases, you’re already aware of the importance of repetition and contrast in music. Repetition and contrast are the cornerstones of composition.

Listen, if you’re already taking jazz piano lessons and want to learn the art of composition on your own, study and learn how to play in 4 and 8-bar phrases. It will serve you well in the long run.

Identify Piano Notes Easily With Some Chutzpah

By   January 12, 2015

The principle piano notes are what every inexperienced player should begin to get down pat when starting their piano lessons. You should immediately recognize the differences in how to notate white keys and black keys. For example, the song “Chopsticks” can be performed easily by means of five black keys.

Piano keys are read off of a so-called grand staff in which the right hand material is generally shown on the top staff and the left hand material on the bottom. Starters should focus on identifying all the music notes of a music musical staff as early as possible in their training. There are distinct techniques to help you to read a music staff, one of the well-known ones transforms all the notes written on a line into a phrase: ‘E’very ‘G’ood ‘B’oy ‘D’eserves ‘F’udge (EGBDF).

Now let’s get a little bit more advanced…

To play a chord you need 3 tones. For example, to make the C major chord you need play the notes C,E,G either together or one after another (a broken chord). To learn about some basic songs, you usually only need to learn a few basic harmonies. For instance, many traditional songs designed for beginners are made up three chords: C major, F major and G major. It’s incredible just how many basic compositions and even popular/rock songs use only these three harmonies. Once you have these three fundamental chords thoroughly understood, you will see how effortless it is to try and learn new ones.

While you go throughout the day, imagine a tiny keyboard in your mind and run the music through your head. Athletes have been doing this with great success for decades. One can’t possibly reiterate this enough as working together with coaches of athletes have instilled into my psyche the value of visualization exercises. It can be as potent as physical practice itself.

Also learn to master the lengths of the individual music notes. Whenever you play any piano music, you’ll notice that the notes seems to differ in duration. You will see various images for every varied duration of a tone. The principal symbols helpful for categorizing tone durations are the whole note (4 beats), quarter note (1 beat) and the half note (2 beats).

Now let’s move onto the nitty-gritty details of how sheet music functions.

All those small vertical lines written all over your sheet music are named bar lines. Two tiny lines are used together to mark the end of a particular section. In general, bar lines enable you to group the music without difficulty into readable mini-sections, which can help you to fully grasp the meter or pulse of a particular work. To help keep time, a time signature then helps to indicate how many beats ought to be counted in each and every bar.

The music staff shows the best way to practise both hands, as it generally contains a top musical staff for the right hand and a lower musical staff for the left hand. Bass clefs indicate the lower notes themselves of the piano, and thus are generally performed by way of the left-hand. The treble clef in the top staff usually shows which music notes are to be performed via the right hand. In complex music, sometimes these clefs are displaced, so that you end up with two treble clefs or two bass clefs on one grand staff.