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Where do I begin? (Read 743 times)

Offline davs123

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Where do I begin?
« on: December 08, 2019, 03:53:25 AM »
Hello, i'm new in this forum and i wanted to get some help to begin learning piano in a professional way. I have been learning piano as a beginner with a teacher (I've played pieces like the Sonatina No. 2 in F Major by Beethoven or the Little Prelude in C Major by Bach) but now i want to start learning piano in a more serious way and i would like to know where to start (good ways of studying, any books about technique you know, what are the things i have to look for when studying, good pieces to learn, anything you guys can tell me). I'll get a teacher as soon as I can but right know at least I want to start with something so i don't lose any more time, so I appreciate any response. Thanks for reading :D

Offline quantum

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #1 on: December 08, 2019, 10:49:14 AM »
Hi, welcome to Pianostreet!

A little more information would help with the responses to your questions.  What are your goals in music?  Do you want to become a professional musician, such as a performer, teacher, or composer?  Or do you want to keep music as a hobby, while maintaining a similar standard of work to that of a professional?

Piano technique: learn your scales, chords and arpeggios in all keys.  These are the building blocks of which a good majority of repertoire is constructed.  Set small reasonable goals, don't try to learn all this stuff in one day.  For example: for a given week focus work on the scales, chords, and arpeggios for one major key and one minor key.  The following week pick another set of major and minor keys.  Also, don't spend your entire practice session doing only technical elements, they are important, but repertoire is more important.  A majority of your practice time should be spent on music.

Improvise music.  It is never too early to start learning this skill.  Make improvisation part of your daily practice routine.  Use improvisation to explore the instrument, musical ideas, and technique.  If you have not yet begun to improvise, just start.  Achieving flow is more important at the beginning stages than attempting any specific technique.  You will find an active improvisation community here at Pianostreet, just ask.

Bach is always an excellent choice.  Have a look at the 2 and 3 part Inventions. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline davs123

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #2 on: December 08, 2019, 07:02:53 PM »
Hi, welcome to Pianostreet!

A little more information would help with the responses to your questions.  What are your goals in music?  Do you want to become a professional musician, such as a performer, teacher, or composer?  Or do you want to keep music as a hobby, while maintaining a similar standard of work to that of a professional?

Piano technique: learn your scales, chords and arpeggios in all keys.  These are the building blocks of which a good majority of repertoire is constructed.  Set small reasonable goals, don't try to learn all this stuff in one day.  For example: for a given week focus work on the scales, chords, and arpeggios for one major key and one minor key.  The following week pick another set of major and minor keys.  Also, don't spend your entire practice session doing only technical elements, they are important, but repertoire is more important.  A majority of your practice time should be spent on music.

Improvise music.  It is never too early to start learning this skill.  Make improvisation part of your daily practice routine.  Use improvisation to explore the instrument, musical ideas, and technique.  If you have not yet begun to improvise, just start.  Achieving flow is more important at the beginning stages than attempting any specific technique.  You will find an active improvisation community here at Pianostreet, just ask.

Bach is always an excellent choice.  Have a look at the 2 and 3 part Inventions.

Thanks for the response, it's really helpful :D. In regard to your questions, yeah i think i need more context: I want to become a composer, but in the school where i want to have my bachelor's degree (the only music school where i live) i have to pick an instrument, and the only plan of study is to become a professional interpreter (there aren't any others that i would prefer like composition or music theory :( ), so i want to pick piano because i think is the instrument that'll help me more with my goals, and also is the one i like the most. Also i have previous musical studies (the music school i'm saying has a plan for high school students and in that plan i picked classical guitar as my instrument for 2 years -wich i regret-, with piano on the basic level), but again i don't want to start a new instrument in a professional way without knowing how to approach it.  Sorry if i can't explain myself better, English is not my first language.

Also, in which order would you recomend learning the keys? Right now i have only studied the B major scale, which i understand is the most basic one. And what Inventions do you recommend? Thanks again for your help

Offline quantum

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #3 on: December 09, 2019, 06:06:01 AM »
in the school where i want to have my bachelor's degree (the only music school where i live) i have to pick an instrument, and the only plan of study is to become a professional interpreter

This sounds like a performance program, correct?

A large part of studies in composition is studying repertoire and how other composers put together their music.  Taking a performance program will serve you well in the context of composition, because you are undertaking that study of repertoire. 

What requirements does the school set for entrance into the program?  Do you have all of these already?  It sounds like you are preparing yourself to enter a Bachelors program.  If so, can you list the things the school is looking for.  It would help us point you in a more specific direction to prepare.

As for keys, there is no specific order.  Chopin would very much approve of you studying the B major scale.  Since you started with B major scale, just finish up the key by learning the chords and arpeggios for it.  Find a minor key to pair with it. 

As for the inventions, start with the 2 part ones.  Your choice as to which one.

To give yourself an improvisation / composition exercise, take the scale you have been practicing and improvise a piece in that key. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline j_tour

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #4 on: December 09, 2019, 07:17:22 AM »
Well, this is a bit deliberately simplistic, but IMHO the best road for you to follow is to start making music.

You've already started, so now you just have to not forget the end goal.

You need technique, and theory:  everyone does.

But most important is to always, always, be listening to music that you have an eye/ear to playing.  And beyond, of course.

If this is going to be a big part of your life, well, then you need to read, hear, dream, and sh*t music.  Every day.  Drunk, sober, asleep, awake, whatever.  Just always music.

If you want a guide book or a "bible of music," then, yeah, I'd say do as many of the Bach Inventions and Sinfonie as you can — you'll find that Bach reuses many of his favorite configurations and tricks throughout his dance suites and the WTC, so if you like his rap, you can just dip in anywhere.

Also, scales.  I'm not a monster at scales, but I'm glad that I don't have to think about fingerings and correct hand placement, since you'll be using at least fragments of scales, in either hand, or both in unison, or in other confgurations.

But, yeah, it's like anything else:  if you want to get there, music has to be about 95% of your life.  Not glued to the keyboard bench like a monkey, but always doing and thinking about music. 

Tapping rhythms with your hands.  Reading score where other people watch comic books.  Improving your memory.  Thinking about best approaches to technical problems.  Listening.  Anything that involves music.

Do it.

Offline davs123

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #5 on: December 09, 2019, 03:11:04 PM »
This sounds like a performance program, correct?

A large part of studies in composition is studying repertoire and how other composers put together their music.  Taking a performance program will serve you well in the context of composition, because you are undertaking that study of repertoire. 

What requirements does the school set for entrance into the program?  Do you have all of these already?  It sounds like you are preparing yourself to enter a Bachelors program.  If so, can you list the things the school is looking for.  It would help us point you in a more specific direction to prepare.

  You are right, is a performance program, and like you said i want to learn piano so i can know all of the great composers there are. And the requirements are to play four pieces (plus the music theory stuff that i already have): a piece by bach(either a 3 part invention, prelude and fugue or 2 movements of a french suit); a virtuoso study (like from czerny op 299 from book 3/4, op 740 or Moskowsky op 72); a piece like Songs without Words from Mendelssohn, a consolation by Liszt or a Nocturne from Chopin (or any similar piece, i don't have the translation but it list it as 'pieza cantinela') and the first movement from any Sonata by Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart (as long as it isn't too easy). And that's it lol, those are all the requirements listed in the program

Also thanks j_tour for your comment. I'll definitely start listening to more piano music

Offline j_tour

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #6 on: December 09, 2019, 05:21:50 PM »
And that's it lol, those are all the requirements listed in the program.

Well, the requirements don't sound so bad.  I'm sure you can knock out the required repertoire in an ad hoc fashion — and, you can get advice if you get stuck on a particular passage or pianistic trick here or elsewhere.

All I was saying was to not let the short-term goals overpower the main task of becoming more expert at music.  And, no, I don't claim to be a master of any sort, just my opinion.

Offline quantum

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #7 on: December 09, 2019, 08:33:09 PM »
Those requirements don't sound too taxing. 

1) Bach.  Learning nearly anything of Bach is usually good for you, pick a piece that compliments the rest of your program.  You might want to check out some Preludes and Fugues, as these tend to pop up as requirements for things like exams.  However, start with the Inventions as the Preludes and Fugues from WTC are a step up in difficulty. 

2) For virtuoso study, I feel that the Chopin Op 10 and 25 are extremely valuable in developing technique.  They are difficult, and eventually you should learn a couple.  You might want to learn a few easier etudes before tackling one of the Op 10 or 25 though. 

The Moszkowski Op 72 are a good choice. 

3) I would interpret this as a lyrical piece.  Lots of choice here.  You could add early period Scriabin to your list of pieces to explore for this. 

4) I would interpret "not to easy" as meaning don't pick Beethoven Op. 49 or Mozart K. 545.  Beethoven Op 2 No1 could be a good starting point. 


It is somewhat surprising there is no Impressionist period requirement, or anything later than 19 Century Romantic. 


j_tour gave some good general advice on mindset in becoming a professional musician.  Your perspective on music changes.  You don't merely consume music as most of the general public, you find ways to make music a part of nearly every element in your life.  The honking horns of frustrated commuters as you wait in traffic, yup that is music too.  You may be observing the tonality of street traffic, as you rehearse the piece you are preparing for tomorrows rehearsal, all the while waiting for the gridlock to clear the intersection.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline davs123

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #8 on: December 10, 2019, 12:13:30 AM »
Thank you so much for both responses quantum and j_tour! You don't know how much you have helped me to find a starting point in this :D. I'll follow your advices right away

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #9 on: December 10, 2019, 02:28:16 AM »
From my perspective I find Bachs WTC overall more helpful in terms of how it develops you compared to the inventions. BTw how did you create a silver membership davs123?
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #10 on: December 10, 2019, 04:37:27 AM »
From my perspective I find Bachs WTC overall more helpful in terms of how it develops you compared to the inventions.

Thank you for saying that.

It's an odd bit of keyboard lore that ZOMG you can't possibly tackle any of the WTC without doing such-and-such of Bach first!  Absolutely no reason someone can't play any number of these p+fs with some basic technique, study, and effort.

I'm not saying that many of the fugues and even preludes aren't demanding, long, and full of challenges, and to my tastes, I'd just as soon never play nor hear some of the preludes as long as I live again.  But the best of the fugues are still in the future for me.  Even the supposedly simpler ones.  A lot of pleasures to be had.  And there are several very good print editions which make sight-reading/hacking one's way through them a reasonable use of one's time, to some extent.

And, to be a bit cynical or practical, probably you'd get more prestige points from getting together at least a few preludes+fugues from either book of the WTC, even though it is a student work.

My view is that there are ways to make music out of the two-part inventions (whether the time might be better spent in some cases on similar inventions, like from Scarlatti is really down to taste — no, I don't go back to very many, but I'm glad I did most of them a long time ago, even if I never play the A minor again or some of the others), but I wouldn't do without the Sinfonie.  True, it can get a bit boring when you do a bunch of them every single day, but I think of the Sinfonie as Bach's version of the Chopin préludes (no, I only can play the easier Chopin ones that I can sight-read without much effort — as everyone knows, some of the Chopin préludes are downright beastly to play, however András Schiff makes it look easy, although still good music) — there's something there, and I get a lot of mileage out of using those as part of a daily routine.  The best of the Sinfonie are little jewels, easily the equal or better of many of the WTC preludes.

For me, at least, there's always a few options I can explore in them, depending on my mood.

EDITED TO ADD You know what I would do for the Haydn/early classical portion?  The Hob. XVI:48 in C major sonata.  Loads of super-famous pianists have recorded this, and it's later Haydn, and, honestly, even though I'm not that great at some of my chops, it can be read off the page pretty easily.  It's also an interesting piece, musically, with a lot of room to "breathe" in your interpretation. Nobody could reasonably complain about it being "easy," even though I didn't find it demanding.

For Beethoven, if you need to add one, I'm still enjoying playing the Op. 27 no. 1.  I'ts long, but not so hard to memorize.  But you've already got the Op. 2 F major, so just do that.

I'm a bit confused about the étude requirement, but I'd go with the Moszkowski Op. 72.  The G minor isn't so bad, and they surely won't ask you to do the whole set.  Frankly the Chopin sets make my p*ssy dry, mostly because I only did the Op. 10 no. 12 to practice octaves.  The Brahms Chaconne (D minor) for LH is a bit much, since it's so long, not that you couldn't play it.  AFAIC, you're own your own for those.  I do like the Czerney Op. 799, but I don't play them front-to-back, just occasionally to do some scales work if I'm bored.

Bach:  WTC II C minor, P+F, or WTC I Bb major, P+F (ETA OR, the C major from WTC I:  the fugue is kind of a b**ch, but if you get the fingering right, it's manageable, and by no means one of the easier from WTCI.  Also from WTCI:  the E major is possibly.  The prelude is just a stupid little bagatelle, but the fugue takes some doing.  OR if you run out of time, do the WTCI E minor prelude and fugue.  The fugue is great, even though it's only two voices.  The prelude kind of sucks, maybe substitute the E minor sinfonia, but I don't know how liberal your judges would be.  I like the fugue around All Saint's Day, being a good superstitious Catholic but it's somewhat difficult for me to remember, despite it being kind of simple.)

Among the Sinfonie, if you want to do that for audition....well, probably the D major or the A major are the trickiest.  Probably more worthwhile to get some WTC under your belt and do that.
Haydn:  Hob. XVI: 48, C major
Mozart, "Rondo," from the Jeunehomme/Jénamy Concerto, not much orchestral supplement needed (at least to me it works pretty well as a solo piano movement, unlike the other two movements)
Moszkowski, Op. 72 G minor (Alfred has a cheap, slim paperback edition with some amusing notes)
Debussy, "Gradus ad parnassum," encore.

Game, set, match.  You're in like Flynn.

Quote
Also, in which order would you recomend learning the keys?

Well, there's no two ways about it, you need to know them all.

I'd just go up chromatically, or by whole steps.  Mix and match major and the minor keys.  Start at B major if you want.  You can do relative minors or parallel minors, or whatever seems good, but there's no getting around that you got to know the keyss.

You can put on an Aretha Franklin or James Brown record or people like that who often ascend in whole steps via keys.  Or like that old pop tune "Sunny."  Hell, you can probably just put on some of those records and just play along by ear:  good practice, I'd think.  It's not virtuoso romantic repertoire, but it's not nothing, either.

Offline CC

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #11 on: December 16, 2019, 07:29:20 PM »
Go to my web page and download (free) my book "Fundamentals of Piano Practice"; it may answer most of your questions: 
http://www.pianopractice.org/
Example: it shows you how to learn a Bach Invention step by step; much, much more, such as explanations of the chromatic scale, tuning temperaments, and even how to tune your own piano.  You must learn Perfect Pitch, learn how to automatically memorize every significant piece you practice (it's a waste of your time to practice anything else such as exercises), learn how to play every piece completely in your mind, away from the piano, learn how to play any new piece at correct speed from day 1 (in short sections), how to prepare for performances, etc., etc., etc.!!!
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 http://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline ranjit

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Re: Where do I begin?
«Reply #12 on: December 17, 2019, 08:36:33 AM »
Glad to see you're still here, CC.