Piano for Drop-outs
March 2, 2006 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Help me remember how to play the piano.

I played for about eight years, and haven't for nearly as many. When i quit, i knew most of what i needed to know to pick up anything and learn to play it well; sadly, this is no longer quite the case. I'd love some advice on:

1) How to quickly and painlessly jog my memory on music theory (I can still read music - notes, that is - and know my scales, but everything else is like pulling teeth). I can't take lessons, so i'd like to find, in addition to/instead of a book of exercises, some text that will tell me all the things my teacher did so long ago (and, optimally, weighs less than my cat). Like what all those numbers on the left side mean, and what kind of chord that is. And,

2) What composers/pieces i should start with: I will probably grab some flashcards, and some of the recommendations in this thread. What next, and more importantly, how does one generally go about finding pieces that suit one's taste and ability? I used to love playing Bach inventions and sonatinas at super-sonic speeds when i was 14, but i'd like to start with some more mature material while i'm still refreshing my memory. What composers/pieces do you most enjoy playing?

Also, i'm poor and have to have most books that are in English expensively shipped to where i live, so bonus points for online resources. Any websites from which i can print out sheet music?
posted by xanthippe to Education (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
links off my del.icio.us
posted by Sallysings at 2:33 PM on March 2, 2006

Here's a response to part 2 of your question.... try the Mutopia Project for PDFs of sheet music (public domain).
posted by fvox13 at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2006

Personally, I found that without a teacher, I ran into a wall in terms of proficiency. Having a skilled teacher guiding me was critical in allowing myself to improve.
posted by knave at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2006

How about the Well Tempered Clavier? You can play most of the preludes slowly and enjoy settling into the notes and then build up and play at tempo without hitting any technique walls. Some of the Scarlatti sonatas are great for this too. I love these because you can polish technique until it's absolutely crystal without tiring of playing them... unlike Chopin where it's just boring working on notes notes notes and not being able to enjoy the music. Are you looking for practise hints too?
posted by ny_scotsman at 5:15 PM on March 2, 2006

I wrote a manual about how to play piano for tech writing class. Send me an email and I'll send you the pdf.
posted by Tlogmer at 6:28 PM on March 2, 2006

Find a copy of Charles Cooke's Playing the Piano for Pleasure. It's old and out of print, but it's full of useful advice.
posted by tangerine at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

How about the Well Tempered Clavier?

I'm not really a piano player, but that seems like excellent advice.

For a basic theory refresher, head to musictheory.net.

I'm a composition student, so if you have any specific theory/notation questions, feel free to e-mail me.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:10 AM on March 3, 2006

Listen to lots of music you love, and start playing along with it. Theory and practicing technique will never amount to as much as simply feeling the music, getting into it, experimenting and letting your fingers remember the joy of making noise. I taught myself how to play by banging out chords while listening to mozart and motown-- drove my parents crazy.
posted by petsounds at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers.
posted by xanthippe at 5:18 PM on March 9, 2006

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