Table of Contents

Chapter 1 โ€“ Why Play the Piano? ……………………………………………………………………………………..3
Chapter 2 โ€“ Looking at the Piano ………………………………………………………………………………………5
Chapter 3 โ€“ The Home Keys and A to G ………………………………………………………………………….6
Chapter 4 โ€“ What Are Scales? …………………………………………………………………………………………..8
Chapter 5 โ€“ Reading Music: Introduction …………………………………………………………………………10
Chapter 6 โ€“ The Lines and the Spaces …………………………………………………………………………….11
Chapter 7 โ€“ Written Piano Music and Rhythm ……………………………………………………………….14
Chapter 8 โ€“ Personal Story: Learning Piano Basics ……………………………………………………….16
Chapter 9 โ€“ Keys and Key Signatures ………………………………………………………………………………18
Chapter 10 โ€“ Get It Together with Chords………………………………………………………………………..20
Chapter 11 โ€“ The Big Fake and Improvisation …………………………………………………………………22
Chapter 12 โ€“ Sight-Reading Written Music …………………………………………………………………….24
Chapter 13 โ€“ Music Terminology for Beginners ………………………………………………………………26
Chapter 14 โ€“ Finding and Choosing Music to Play …………………………………………………………28
Chapter 15 โ€“ Practicing on Your Own ………………………………………………………………………………29
Chapter 16 โ€“ The Small Spotlight: Playing for Friends and Family ………………………………31
Chapter 17 โ€“ Playing for Public Events …………………………………………………………………………….33
Chapter 18 โ€“ Personal Story: How Playing the Piano Became My Occupation …………34
Chapter 19 โ€“ Tips for Beginning Piano Players………………………………………………………………..35
Chapter 20 โ€“ Lessons and Piano Teachers ………………………………………………………………………36
Chapter 21 โ€“ Conclusion: Enjoyment That Lasts a Lifetime …………………………………………..37

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Chapter 1 โ€“ Why Play the Piano?

You probably already know that piano playing is an exciting talent to develop. If you are a jazz enthusiast, you may have listened to piano music from great artists like Count Basie or Duke Ellington. You might like modern jazz piano players better and there are many who have won the hearts of audiences everywhere. One piano player who crosses many genres is Jim Brickman, who often plays his own compositions. Along with smooth jazz stations, Brickmanโ€™s music is played on pop, inspirational, and new age stations.

You may be more interested in the rock keyboard players. Some of them have been: Rick Wakeman of Yes, Tony Banks of Genesis, Dennis De Young of Styx, and David Sancious who played for Springsteen, Santana, and Sting. Rock piano players include Elton John, Billy Joel, Carole King, Paul McCartney, and Carly Simon.

Even if you have never liked classical music before, you might begin to enjoy it once you have started to play the piano. It presents a challenge and is very satisfying to master. Some of the greats are Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Brahms.

If you are like many people who hear these great musical works of art, you will want to emulate them. You may learn well enough to play for a band or as a solo act if you are dedicated enough. You can certainly learn to play the piano well enough to entertain yourself, your friends, and your family.

There are other benefits to playing the piano as well. One is relaxation. When you feel upset, it is very therapeutic to play the piano for a while. If you are angry, playing the piano can release your frustrations. Your playing will soothe your nerves if you are anxious. If you are feeling down, you can start with slow songs and build up to more up-tempo, happier-sounding songs. This will often lift your sad mood.

If you do end up playing professionally, you can gain a source of income from your piano playing. Some piano players earn very little โ€“ just some tips from a jar on their piano bar instrument. Other piano players can earn fantastic amounts of money if they are talented enough and lucky enough.

Another reason to learn to play the piano is to develop discipline. If you are someone who starts and stops activities without giving them a fair shot, you might have better luck with the piano. It gives rewards at every level, keeping you motivated to stay at it and work harder.

Learning to play the piano is easier in some ways than learning other types of music. With vocal music, you have to learn more carefully about the pitch. You have to worry about being just a touch above or below the note. With a piano, the only way that would happen is if your piano is out of tune, in which case you just have a technician fix it.

The main reason anyone should learn to play the piano is for their own fulfillment. No matter what that means to you, you will be happy when you have strived to reach your full potential. You will feel joy when you play a composition well. You will be a happier person for letting music into your life.

Chapter 2 โ€“ Looking at the Piano

Before you begin to play the piano, you need to become familiar with what the instrument is. Some pianos are upright pianos, which are usually large, heavy, tall vertical boxes. These are anywhere from 36 to 51 inches tall. Spinets are the shortest upright pianos, at 36 to 39 inches. A studio vertical is 44 inches or taller.

If you have the opportunity to play on a grand piano, you will usually get a better sound and a more responsive touch. Grand pianos are the more horizontal pianos, ranging from 5 to 9 feet in length. In a grand piano, the strings are horizontal. In a vertical piano, the strings are, well, vertical.

The piano will have a music rack of some kind where you can put your sheet music. It may fold down or slide into a slot. When you are ready to play, put it into position. There should also be a bench for you to sit on. Adjust the position of the bench so that you can reach all the keys from one end of the keyboard to the other. Do not sit either too far or away or too close.

There will be pedals at the bottom of the piano where your feet are. These need not be used by beginners. Once you become more proficient at playing the piano, you can learn how to use these pedals to sustain sounds or cut them short.

The part of the piano that will be most important to your learning is the keyboard. It is made up of white and black keys which run from the left to the right of the piano face. These keys do not alternate white-black-white for the entire length of the keyboard.

If you look closely, you will see that the black and white keys form a pattern that repeats from one end of the keyboard to the other. The pattern consists of 7 white keys and 5 black keys in a particular order. From the beginning of one such set of keys and ending at the beginning of the next set, an interval is formed. Intervals are just the musical distances between two sounds. This particular interval is called an octave.

The keys are lined up on the keyboard in order from the lowest on the left to the highest on the right. Starting at the left and moving to the right, each black or white key is a half step higher in pitch than the key before it. For a full step, it is necessary to go up (or down) two half steps. Try some half steps and some full steps. With a little practice, you should be able to learn the sound of those intervals easily.

Try other intervals to hear their sounds. Always pay attention to how many half or full steps you are taking. Do the same intervals at several different places along the keyboard. Try octaves. You can do this by picking out a key and playing the next key up that is in the same position in the next pattern group. Soon, you will be playing octaves with ease. This is very important to all kinds of piano playing.

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the instrument called the piano, you can begin to learn how to use it to make music. There is much to learn, but you can begin playing simple songs very quickly. All it takes is a little time and some effort, and soon you will be happily playing songs you enjoy. What starts with a few notes can end in a lifelong pursuit of musical accomplishment.

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