Looking to improve technique and skills.

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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Lexusuk
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Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by Lexusuk » 01 Dec 2009, 03:34

Hi all,

I am a 25 year old piano player who has owned a digital piano (Casio PX-300) for exactly 1 year today after wanting a piano for as long as I could remember but without ever making the leap. Over the course of that year I have self taught myself serveral pieces to an average level, learnt most major and minor scales and gained some sight reading skills. Although I am happy with my progress so far without any instruction other than from online sources I am looking to progress further and fear that any more tinkling without some fundemental coaching or knowledge is going to work against me in the future.

I want to improve my sight reading, fingering, general technique and also ensure that everything I do learn is done correctly and not just sounding right. Although i can play some averagely complex pieces I do suspect that a well taught player would make several criticisms of my playing and I wan't to correct that. I am considering purchasing some ABRSM grade 1 course materials and working through them with an aim to take the grade 1 exam at a future date. Is this the best way forward? or given my age should I be looking at higher grades? I know that really I should be looking to take some piano lessons but they are just so expensive. (or at least the ones in the Sheffield area I have seen advertised have been)

What books/materials would you suggest for me to get hold of? Or should I be doing something else? Any advice is welcome!

Moonlight
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by Moonlight » 01 Dec 2009, 17:52

Hi

You seem to be in a similar position to how I was last year. I taught myself for about 9 months before I got lessons, with piano method books. I avoided lessons as I couldn’t afford them.

If you can afford to have some lessons then I can’t recommend them enough. Having someone in the know watching your every move is very useful and the number of subtle things you will pick up from a good teacher won’t be included in any method books or online tutorials, as it depends on what you are doing wrong at the time etc. So I say go and get some lessons, they don’t even need to be every week.

I do agree with you piano lessons are expensive, but you need to remember you are paying for private lessons and they are always expensive. You could always have an half hour lesson every week or an hour lesson every two weeks, depends what your budget is.

Word of warning though; make sure you find a teacher you get on with. My very first teacher I’m pretty sure did not seem to enjoy teaching adults, and just seemed to lack what’s needed in a good teacher. Make sure you find one that enjoys teaching people, and can make their passion rub off on you. A good teacher leaves you wanting more.

What things are you playing at the moment? You may be able to even skip grade 1 if your teacher thinks so. This happen with me, I had about 5 lessons with the teacher I didn’t like and was preparing for grade one, but then I got another teacher and she said go for grade 2. I was sceptical about it at first but it paid off, and my new nice teacher was right.

There is some good sight reading books around but the only one I’m familiar with though is Improve your Sight Reading! by Paul Harris. They cover pre grade 1 to grade 8 sight reading, they are designed to help you with the sight reading requirements in ABRSM exams. They are worth a look. But depending on your ability you should always be s reading material that’s a few grades down from your actual playing ability. Just start off with very easy stuff. But the only way to get good at it is to sight read everyday... as painful, hard and slow as it may seem.

As for improving fingering there are studies around to help with that and at the same time build on technique, my teacher gave me a few Burgmuller studies for this. Playing scales and sight reading will also help to help you develop a feel for what fingers are best to use. Personally I always try out the fingering given on the score, but if I find something more logical my way I always write my own fingering on it, as everyone hands are a different shape; I always go with what works best for my hand. I asked my teacher about this and she agreed with me, although she sometimes needs to correct the fingerings I wrote down! :mrgreen:

Gill the Piano
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by Gill the Piano » 01 Dec 2009, 18:06

Your age has nothing to do with what grade you take - it all depends on how well you've been teaching yourself, and it sounds as though you've been very thorough. Only a lesson with a good teacher will tell you for sure. Book a consultation lesson; Moonlight is soooooooo right - you HAVE to click with a teacher. One lesson should tell you whether you're going to get on or not. Make sure they like teaching adults - adults are generally slower, but on the plus side they WANT to be there, not just because mummy wants 'em to learn! Moonlight covered it all,really! Good luck!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Lexusuk
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by Lexusuk » 02 Dec 2009, 06:53

Thanks for your advice. Grade 1 books are in the post. The whole lot was less than £10 from amazon and i'm sure I will at least learn something.

At the moment I am learning various classic pieces I have in a Grade 2 book but I mostly spend my time with Tim Minchin stuff. I love his playing and comedy so I really enjoy covering his songs. There are some sources of sheet music but a lot of the time you have to play by ear and develop the songs by yourself which I appear to have an apparent skill in doing. I know that I play at less than a quarter of Minchins level but I think what is important is that I enjoy playing his songs and his songs inspire me to play and play better.

Although I suspect my technique is poor, I can pull off a pretty decent "peace anthem for palestine" which I believe to be well well above what i should be able to play given my experience. (For those that are not aware of Minchin see a cover by another talented individual here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x2xOPXrtkw ) Maybe I will post a video for people to comment on?

Can anyone recommend a piano teacher in Sheffield UK?

Edit: Pesky Pic disappeared.

Image
Last edited by Lexusuk on 03 Dec 2009, 04:49, edited 1 time in total.

Moonlight
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by Moonlight » 02 Dec 2009, 15:47

Tim Minchin that’s his name! I was talking to another forum member about him but couldn’t remember his name. He did a cool duet on the Jonathan Ross show with Jamie Cullum; it was a good show that one. That’s cool you meet him, I assume it’s you in the pic! (what ? the picture has vanished now :?: )

If you’re more into playing modern stuff, then ABRSM has a Jazz syllabus, you might want to go with that instead as the usual syllabus leans more towards classical music, although some more modern stuff is included in it too. The Jazz one also encourages improvisation.

There are also other exam boards to go with but I’m not familiar with them, like Trinity Guildhall.

If that’s the way you want to go then it might be best to get a teacher that specialises in modern music, instead of or as well as classical.

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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by grademusictutorscom » 22 Jul 2010, 17:40

I'd alwas look first at how my hands were, posture, arms before looking at any book. Half the time it's down to how the individual uses their hands and their choice of fingers.

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samasap
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by samasap » 20 Jan 2011, 13:07

The Kenneth Baker books are great if you are self teaching, I think you can get an Elton John one in this as well!
With Sightreading, I'd suggest simple pieces that you don't know, and give yourself a two minute time scale, to scroll and read through the piece trying bits out, looking for repetitive patterns, check the Key and Time Signature then have a go at playing. Try and do this a couple of times a week and see how you get on.

Hanon books are great for improving technique, and what is good is you can work on your rhythm control with these as well, so start off slowly then build them up weekly to a faster pace, they are good fun too!!!

scorepian
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by scorepian » 12 May 2011, 16:12

I have a great new product and it just so happens that I am searching for players to test it for me. it is called a page grip (simple but effective) It is to aid page turning and by having choice of where to grasp the turning page, technique is improved with immediate effect. You can view a demonstration on my website. http://www.scorepian.co.uk If you email me your address I will send you a set which you are welcome to try . scorepian@gmx.com
If any other musicians/teachers would like to do the same I would love to hear from you.
regards
martin evans

didgeridoo
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Re: Looking to improve technique and skills.

Post by didgeridoo » 30 May 2011, 08:48

Lexusuk wrote:Maybe I will post a video for people to comment on?[/img]
I think it's a good idea. You wrote that:
Lexusuk wrote:Although i can play some averagely complex pieces I do suspect that a well taught player would make several criticisms of my playing and I wan't to correct that.
...and the only way to get to know is doing it :lol: With video it's even better, because in this case knowledgeable people may comment not only your performance but also your technique - in sense, one can see how you hold your hands and so on.

PS. Is that you on a photo? Morrissey FTW! :mrgreen:

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