Re-learning Piano without dying of Frustration
February 15, 2007 12:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm re-teaching myself piano and need suggestions for drills, scales and other practice material.

It's been twenty years since I had a lesson and now I'd like to ressurrect some of my old skill. I need two things - basic drills, scales and other practice material, and also relatively simple (but not dumbed down) music to start adding into my repertoire so I don't die of frustration.

Ideally, I'd like to find free (of course) online resources. Classical music is fine (and has no pesky copyright issues) but - dear GOD - I never want to hear Fur Elise again as long as I live.

There's plenty of stuff out there for music, but I find it tends to be either too advanced (I got to grade 4 but sucked at theory) or not actually free.

posted by ninazer0 to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Mikrokosmos" by Bela Bartok

Six (thin) volumes of exercises/drills/etc written to teach his 9yr old son to play. Ranges from beginner to super advanced.
posted by Satapher at 1:32 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: I was able to find some good music books for relatively little by looking on Ebay. The exercises I do - not exactly originally - are by Hannon ( Personally I like Jazz Hannon) and Czerny.
posted by rongorongo at 1:38 AM on February 15, 2007

When I did piano lessons it was Czerny all the way! Must go dig them out again.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:35 AM on February 15, 2007

"Mikrokosmos" by Bela Bartok

Enthusiastically seconded. Simple pieces, but inspired.
posted by Wolof at 3:45 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: I'm trying something very similar. There are some great sources online these days -- I downloaded Hanon free at The Sheet Music Archive. I also got Bach's Inventions from the Mutopia Project, which is basically Project Gutenberg for sheet music. Bach wrote those and the Sinfonias for the musical education of his students and I find them pretty accessible for someone returning to the piano after a long time away.
posted by katemonster at 6:13 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: Besides Mutopia Project, the Piano Society offers downloads of piano pieces played by amateurs, together with the sheet music. You can find Bartok's 'Ten Easy Pieces' here.
posted by Psychnic at 6:50 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: I wrote a how-to-play-piano guide awhile back.
posted by Tlogmer at 9:38 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: Stravinsky wrote a volume of piano pieces for the young as well, quite good. For exercises, nothing beats the Hanon.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:12 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: I just finished reading "An Amateur at the Keyboard" by Peter Yates. A few bits of advice seemed pretty good to me. Yates advises against scales ala Hanon and Czerny, though I have to admit I like hammering out the first couple of Hanon scales for warm-up. He suggests Chopin √Čtudes at a slow pace instead of scales to 'feed the soul.' Check out the book from your library. I broke down and bought a copy of "The Piano Handbook" by Carl Humphries after checking it out from the library. The lessons are progressive and diverse, the CD that comes with the book demonstrates the exercises really well, and the spiral binding makes the book stand up nicely on the piano. One of the exercises is Fur Elise, I'm afraid. You are your own teacher, however, and can skip around at will. The units cover more than just classical music. Again, check it out from the library first.
posted by KrustyKlingon at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2007

Best answer: Let me add to the Bartók love and recommend his For Children collection. They are approachable, but remain delightful after you've mastered them. (My wife does a little dance whenever she hears the Vol 1 No 1, aptly titled "Children at play.")

No love for the joy-killing Czerny or Hanon here. Scales and arpeggios are, I believe, better learned in the context of real music. The Mozart K. 545 is a great place to start.
posted by goetter at 12:06 PM on February 15, 2007

As a (sad) side-correction, classical music usually does have copyright issues. This is because it takes human labor and expertise to prep an edition of a piece for a publisher. So the publisher owns the copyright. The music itself may be in the public domain, but copyright-free editions of it will be very rare.
posted by lorimer at 3:25 PM on February 15, 2007

Response by poster: Gosh. You guys are great.

posted by ninazer0 at 1:01 AM on February 16, 2007

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