J. S. Bach: PRELUDE #1 IN C
Beethoven: MOONLIGHT SONATA
Beethoven: FUR ELISE
J. S. Bach: MINUET
Mozart: RONDO ALLA TURCA
Tchaikovsky: SYMPHONY PATHETIQUE
Beethoven: RAGE OVER A LOST PENNY
Chopin: FANTASIE IMPROMPTU
Debussy: CLAIR DE LUNE
Rossini: WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE (LONE
From the Introduction to EASY CLASSICAL PIANO BY NUMBER
The idea for this book comes from students who are able to play music at the piano far more complex than they are able to read from sheet music.
Musicians play music, which is memorized, as well as reading through literature (sheet music) for work or pleasure. Sheet music is not the be-all and end-all of the musical art: sound, perception and pleasure are the essence of music, and it
doesn't matter much how you achieve it, from the printed page or elsewhere.
Thus I teach all students to play complex pieces in simplified versions, or by number, or by ear, or by memory. They learn sheet music as well, but they start by playing the great masterpieces in however humble a fashion.
I insist students memorize these pieces so that they can look at the piano keys, not the printed page.
The reason for this is simple: beginning sheet music is necessarily boring and limited in scope. To combat this fatigue, I make all students start as soon as possible playing great masterpieces of classical music in a simplified form.
A student who is inspired by playing, however humbly, a great masterpiece, is far more likely to endure the repetition necessary to achieve mastery at the piano.
How one gets the information for the music is irrelevant, what matters is that the player knows which keys to push when. It's very much like a script to an actor: at first, they are dependent on the written text, but, once memorized, the script is discarded as the actor fully inhabits the role.
Or, think of a driver with a road map: one consults the page and then drives, for to do both at once is a recipe for disaster. Learn the notes, the keys, and then memorize, and then play the piece from memory, never referring to the printed page. Look at the keys while you play, not the printed page. Like an actor with a script, the printed page is largely irrelevant once it is memorized.
It's the same with music: what matters is that the player knows what to do, not how they have acquired the information. The great singer Pavarotti, for example, cannot read sheet music, and relies on coaches who sing and play his part until the great tenor is sure of what to do. What matters is the music itself, not the form in which it is delivered.
The most difficult thing to do in learning the piano is to survive the
repetition. Mastering even a simple song requires a lot of repetition until the song and hand movements and fingering are almost beyond second nature. You have to repeat each portion of the song many, many times until it becomes easy.
Select the pieces you really want to play, and play them every day, even if you only have time to play each piece once per day. Make a list of songs, adding to it, deleting those you decide you don't like. Play only the music that you love, otherwise you won't put yourself through the work necessary to master it.
Select several songs and then alternate between them so that you don't get bored with each one. When you become bored with a song, select another and work on that one. You'll be surprised how well each piece is served by simply leaving it alone for a while: I call it the
It's better to play five minutes a day without fail than half an hour once a week. Train yourself to do a little each day.
Expect results in direct proportion to your repetition of each piece.
Memorize the piece as soon as possible. This is perhaps the most important tip of all: you cannot master the hand movements unless you can look at your hands, and you can't do that until you can look away from the printed page. Remind yourself constantly that the printed page is absolutely irrelevant once it is memorized. Select small sections and then memorize each section, later stitching the sections together like squares in a quilt.
Allow yourself at least six months to a year before you judge yourself too harshly or by other
people's standards. I can't tell you how many people have stuck it out through the first year, and begin to see results, the most happy of which is that you have a wonderful hobby for the rest of your life.
Don't play something twice and say "I can't do it." Try it two thousand times, and then do that again.
Learning piano takes time: go at your own pace.
How to Practice:
Don't practice, call it play. Practicing is really just playing with a strategy in mind. The following are the
"practice" tips I give my students:
Don't set a daily amount of time you expect yourself to "practice." Whatever amount of time you set up will be hard to achieve, and as soon as you
don't meet up to this standard, you will want to stop. Say, rather, "I'm going to work on this piece for a few
minutes." Then begin to play it with the following strategies in mind:
Always start with hands separately, no matter how absurd each separate part sounds. Later, you can combine the two hands when you feel comfortable. Starting with both hands is usually a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Starting with both hands is expecting far too much of yourself.
The cardinal rule of success at the piano lies in the following order:
Learn the notes (which piano keys) first, regardless of fingering: learn what you must do, then find out how to do it. Start with one finger if you must, but START.
When you are familiar with the notes, try to start using the fingering. It will make the movements you make more efficient and less awkward.
Lastly, try to master the rhythm, that is, when to play each note.
Always work in sections: never try to master an entire piece at once. Say to yourself,
"I'm going to play this section here, this first line of music, for a while until I feel comfortable, and then
I'll go on to the other parts of the piece." There's nothing more daunting than looking at a page full of information: take it a little bit at a time.
The pieces are divided into sections for you. Use these divisions so that you can master each small section, and then later put these together like the squares of a quilt.
A great piano teacher once said, "Practice dispassionately, but play
You Are Your Teacher
Strange as it may sound, think of your efforts to learn the piano as a sort of theater company.
Your brain is the director, and your fingers are the actors. The piano is the set, the stage upon which the drama is to be played. The music is the script, the drama that will be enacted.
The actors are divided into two groups of five, with one group of five, usually the right hand, being more dominant and developed.
Fingers, like actors, are difficult to control and sometimes may seem to have minds of their own. The solution to this anarchy is rehearsal, or repetition, wherein each finger is made to understand their role by means of repetition.
Research shows that it takes a baby more than 2000 repetitions of a simple motion to master it. Grabbing a cup without dropping it, for example, is a task that takes many tries before it can be executed with spilling the contents.
Remember this baby with the cup, and be easy on yourself as you try to master the motions of the piano. Baby
yourself, encourage yourself.
Unless you allow yourself unlimited attempts, you will not be able to master the piece you want to play. Forget what anyone else's standard is, DEVISE YOUR OWN. Don't be a perfectionist, be a
repetitionist, be like a dog with a bone, do not give up. Mastery will come to those who try, try again. And mastery only comes to those who keep trying. Work at your own pace.
Leave the field after five minutes of play, if you must, but return again the next round just as determined as you were. Absolutely do not accept defeat, but know when to fold your hand and come back later. The winners at learning the piano are the personification of persistence, no matter how humble their abilities. Forget Carnegie Hall, think of your front hall. Fill it with music.
Begin to play, with one finger if necessary, but start playing the instrument. Play, don't talk, don't think, just play the section you want to play, again, and again, until you tire of it, and then come back and do it again. The results of this persistence are spectacular: you'll be able to play the piano.