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!
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!
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.
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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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!!!
If any other musicians/teachers would like to do the same I would love to hear from you.
I think it's a good idea. You wrote that:Lexusuk wrote:Maybe I will post a video for people to comment on?[/img]
...and the only way to get to know is doing it 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.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.
PS. Is that you on a photo? Morrissey FTW!