i wanna learn piano on my own terms
June 28, 2020 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I often have tunes running through my head, and I'd like to be able to get those tunes out of my brain through my fingers to an electronic piano keyboard as fluently as possible. Learning to read music, proper piano technique, etc. are not priorities for me. Can you recommend online courses that focus on this one particular skill, or exercises and techniques that worked for you personally?
posted by moonmilk to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What is your ultimate goal? Do you just want to be able to play these tunes on a keyboard? Do you want to record them as audio files somehow? Or do you want to be able to create a written "sheet music" version of them?

In a traditional musical education, I think the skill that would most help you in reproducing a tune on the keyboard is interval ear training, which will help you figure out how far apart two notes should be on the keyboard given their difference in pitch.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:41 AM on June 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, to clarify the goal: it's to get tunes into a MIDI track in DAW software in near real-time, with as little post-editing in the midi editor as possible. Audio files may or may not be a by-product. I don't need sheet music.

I didn't mean that proper piano technique is forbidden, just that I want to focus on this one goal as much as possible, including whatever technique is necessary!
posted by moonmilk at 9:48 AM on June 28, 2020

Best answer: Can you whistle the tunes easily? If not, start there. If so, you’re in good shape. The hard parts of piano playing (to me) are hand independence and quickly grabbing arbitrary chords. None of that matters at all for what you want, if by ‘tunes’ you mean a monophonic melody line and not some complicated arrangement of rhythms, chords, basslines etc.

I would recommend drilling on all the major and minor scales, and the pentatonics, and sure some interval training. But it’s mostly just practice doing what you want to do. Music theory and piano drills will help but only in a general sense, just stick to working on the skill you want, is my advice. Even if you do want to get out fuller arrangements, you’d start by mastering transferring simple melodies from your head to your keyboard.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:12 AM on June 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

If you just want to be able to play melodies and not actually play piano, check out using your keyboard in GarageBand. You hit a key and it plays a note. (Usually a = C, but you can shift up and down.) You’ll still need to be able to recognize intervals by ear and stuff, and it can sometimes be confusing because the note you’re playing is a different letter than the key you strike (if I told you to hit a D note, would you press the d key or the s? S is correct.) But it’s quick and easy. You don’t have to learn technique. And since you’re in GarageBand, it’s easy to record and edit your track.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:20 AM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I see you've made some Music posts, although checking those out I'm not clear on how you created them. Have you played or do you play an instrument at all?

Nthing interval training.

Otherwise it seems like you just kind want a basic "what notes are these keys? what are scales and how do you play them?" kind of thing.

it's to get tunes into a MIDI track in DAW software in near real-time,

This is down to repetition, and various "how to practice" techniques - playing at different speeds, especially slower initially or in difficult parts; repeating difficult sections more than easier sections; breaking a tune down into different sections in the first place and working on each section independently and then working on playing sections back to back, etc. etc. etc.

IOW, if I'm reading you correctly, you just need a really basic understanding of the keyboard, so yeah reading music and proper technique are maybe not so relevant because you're not looking to be a "keyboard player", but really the way to get stuff recorded/performed in real time is to just play it again and again and again and again and again until it's "muscle memory."
posted by soundguy99 at 10:24 AM on June 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Udemy has a course called Piano for All that teaches largely from an improvisational perspective and definitely very much from a get-you-playing-things-that-sound-good-as-quickly-as-possible perspective. I haven't done too much of it, but found the initial lessons pretty helpful. Don't pay full price for it, though, Udemy has $10 per course sales/coupons pretty frequently.
posted by lgyre at 10:52 AM on June 28, 2020

Best answer: If you just want to get the basics, there are a few apps that can help. I’ve used Skoove to help with the fundamentals. You learn to play different songs, it gives you feedback on whether you’re playing the right notes at rhe right time, and along the way learn basic technique, music theory, ear training, etc. It’s not the same or as good as real piano lessons, but you can do it totally at your own pace and it’s fun.
posted by spikysimon at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2020

Best answer: Definitely do look up a video or two on proper hand position, though, especially if you spend a lot of time at a computer keyboard too. A piano can do a number on your hands and wrists, and even your shoulders. The tendency is to let your wrists sag below the keys, and hold to tension in your hands. This will cause you real pain if you do it too long. As a bonus, learning good position can help with other types of keyboards too!
posted by backwards compatible at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Anytune Pro+ has changed my playing forever. Just set up loops of the songs you want to learn by setting up markers for the start and the end, and slow the songs way down until you can plunk them out even if you don't have the chops you want yet. Then you can speed the loops little by little, and delete the markers as you get closer to being able to play the whole tune along with the recording.

As an aside, if you listen to Art Tatum at 40% speed, it sounds like a contemplative Bill Evans tune.
posted by umbú at 12:28 PM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yousician has a free tier that's worth looking at. It has lots of exercises (including interval training I think) and method to start teaching keyboard without any traditional music reading, similar to Guitar Hero etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:38 AM on June 29, 2020

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