How to improve once you're good at playing the keyboard?


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Hi everyone, I'm Harsh. I've been playing the keyboard for quite sometime now, and I can play it to an intermediate level.
I've learnt the keyboard mostly from youtube.

I can play some songs by ear, usually the ones with very easy chord progressions. But now I'm stuck, I don't know what I should learn next.

I know basics of sheet music, but I don't use it at all. Should I learn Jazz, or some improvisation techniques? Or sheet music?

I've attached a zip file which contains a recording of me playing The Office theme song, to give you all an idea of where I stand.

Thanks for reading
 

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I suppose that what you should learn is dependent upon what styles you like to play. As for myself, I am classically trained and took lessons for many years as a child/teen. Once I developed my technique, I branched out into many different types of music.

I would learn a bit of everything, personally. When you do that, you become very versatile and can play any style. It has served me well over the many years I have been playing.

I also think that one advantage I have is that I can read music. I am also trained in theory, so my understanding of music is well developed.

I like to play more technical music so finger training and improving dexterity is very important. Because of my classical background, I have the finger technique down.

My preferred styles are Gospel, Jazz, Neo Classical Metal, Progressive Metal, Funk, and ethereal improv.

What I also do is listen to my favorite keyboard and guitar players and learn how they play things. I also watch videos of their live work so I can see their fingerings as well, just in case they are doing something that is not straightforward.

I believe that being able to read music is one of the most important things one can learn. I also play by ear, but the foundation of knowing what the notes, the chords, the different modes, etc... is because of my ability to read music and music theory.

I hope that this helps a bit.

Grace,
Harry
 
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I suppose that what you should learn is dependent upon what styles you like to play. As for myself, I am classically trained and took lessons for many years as a child/teen. Once I developed my technique, I branched out into many different types of music.

I would learn a bit of everything, personally. When you do that, you become very versatile and can play any style. It has served me well over the many years I have been playing.

I also think that one advantage I have is that I can read music. I am also trained in theory, so my understanding of music is well developed.

I like to play more technical music so finger training and improving dexterity is very important. Because of my classical background, I have the finger technique down.

My preferred styles are Gospel, Jazz, Neo Classical Metal, Progressive Metal, Funk, and ethereal improv.

What I also do is listen to my favorite keyboard and guitar players and learn how they play things. I also watch videos of their live work so I can see their fingerings as well, just in case they are doing something that is not straightforward.

I believe that being able to read music is one of the most important things one can learn. I also play by ear, but the foundation of knowing what the notes, the chords, the different modes, etc... is because of my ability to read music and music theory.

I hope that this helps a bit.

Grace,
Harry

I suppose that what you should learn is dependent upon what styles you like to play. As for myself, I am classically trained and took lessons for many years as a child/teen. Once I developed my technique, I branched out into many different types of music.

I would learn a bit of everything, personally. When you do that, you become very versatile and can play any style. It has served me well over the many years I have been playing.

I also think that one advantage I have is that I can read music. I am also trained in theory, so my understanding of music is well developed.

I like to play more technical music so finger training and improving dexterity is very important. Because of my classical background, I have the finger technique down.

My preferred styles are Gospel, Jazz, Neo Classical Metal, Progressive Metal, Funk, and ethereal improv.

What I also do is listen to my favorite keyboard and guitar players and learn how they play things. I also watch videos of their live work so I can see their fingerings as well, just in case they are doing something that is not straightforward.

I believe that being able to read music is one of the most important things one can learn. I also play by ear, but the foundation of knowing what the notes, the chords, the different modes, etc... is because of my ability to read music and music theory.

I hope that this helps a bit.

Grace,
Harry
Thanks Harry!



I think I should focus right now on reading sheet music and understanding music theory, can you suggest some good resources for that?



I really liked your idea of seeing musicians play the songs to find out what they're doing.



Thank you so much for your advice, I've been trying to figure out what to do for quite sometime, this gave me a good perspective.
 
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Thanks Harry!



I think I should focus right now on reading sheet music and understanding music theory, can you suggest some good resources for that?



I really liked your idea of seeing musicians play the songs to find out what they're doing.



Thank you so much for your advice, I've been trying to figure out what to do for quite sometime, this gave me a good perspective.
Other than recommending some very dreary and boring books on theory from days past, a great resource is on YouTube. Rick Beato is a guitarist/studio guy/producer/etc.. and has LOTS of videos out there. He is the go to for many people and I have found many things that are useful with what he teaches. He is in his late 50's (I will be 51 soon), so we are in the same mindset for things and they are proven and work very well.

If you search for Rick Beato, you will see a wealth of information on his channel. He also reviews songs in a series called "What Makes This Song Great" and they are very informative :)

I used to teach piano, guitar, and bass and the first thing I always taught was how to read notes. Another thing I taught were the major/minor chords and their chordal relatives (both minor and major) and how they tied together.

A great example would be the C Major Chord. You know the notes are C/E/G. Instead of playing a C an octave below for the root bass note for the C Major scale, you can substitute that C (C3) with an A (A2) and boom - you have an A minor 7th chord. If you go from the A to an F, you have an F maj 9th chord... You can keep going, and it works similarly for every chord, both major and minor. The beauty is that while you still pressed the C/E/G with your right hand, you changed the chord by using a different bass note.

You could also look at a C Minor chord. The notes are C/E flat/G. Instead of the root C note in the bass, use an A flat instead and you just played an A flat maj 7th chord.

It is all relative :)

Grace,
Harry
 
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How proficient are you at reading music? If you could master reading music then you could pick up any piece of music and play it. So you could pick up a piece of Bach music and play it. Then you'd be as good as Bach. Excellent reader of music but can't play it? Practice reading and playing until you get it right and that's how you'll get better.
 
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Other than recommending some very dreary and boring books on theory from days past, a great resource is on YouTube. Rick Beato is a guitarist/studio guy/producer/etc.. and has LOTS of videos out there. He is the go to for many people and I have found many things that are useful with what he teaches. He is in his late 50's (I will be 51 soon), so we are in the same mindset for things and they are proven and work very well.

If you search for Rick Beato, you will see a wealth of information on his channel. He also reviews songs in a series called "What Makes This Song Great" and they are very informative :)

I used to teach piano, guitar, and bass and the first thing I always taught was how to read notes. Another thing I taught were the major/minor chords and their chordal relatives (both minor and major) and how they tied together.

A great example would be the C Major Chord. You know the notes are C/E/G. Instead of playing a C an octave below for the root bass note for the C Major scale, you can substitute that C (C3) with an A (A2) and boom - you have an A minor 7th chord. If you go from the A to an F, you have an F maj 9th chord... You can keep going, and it works similarly for every chord, both major and minor. The beauty is that while you still pressed the C/E/G with your right hand, you changed the chord by using a different bass note.

You could also look at a C Minor chord. The notes are C/E flat/G. Instead of the root C note in the bass, use an A flat instead and you just played an A flat maj 7th chord.

It is all relative :)

Grace,
Harry
Thanks Harry!
I'll check out Rick Beato, and thanks for sharing your experience and also for explaining the relationship between chords.
I'll update you on my progress!!
 
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How proficient are you at reading music? If you could master reading music then you could pick up any piece of music and play it. So you could pick up a piece of Bach music and play it. Then you'd be as good as Bach. Excellent reader of music but can't play it? Practice reading and playing until you get it right and that's how you'll get better.
Thanks Dave!

I can read sheet music, but definitely can't start playing as soon as I read it. I'll try to learn how to read sheet music to a really good level and some music theory.
 
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Thanks Dave!

I can read sheet music, but definitely can't start playing as soon as I read it. I'll try to learn how to read sheet music to a really good level and some music theory.
it's not just about reading the music; it's about finger dexterity. If the music is written in 180 beats per minute and you can't play it that fast, then the issue isn't the reading, it's being able to play what your reading. Practicing the sessions at a slower tempo then building up to that speed will increase your dexterity, flexibility and speed. That's how you'll get better.
 
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Hi everyone, I'm Harsh. I've been playing the keyboard for quite sometime now, and I can play it to an intermediate level.
I've learnt the keyboard mostly from youtube.

I can play some songs by ear, usually the ones with very easy chord progressions. But now I'm stuck, I don't know what I should learn next.

I know basics of sheet music, but I don't use it at all. Should I learn Jazz, or some improvisation techniques? Or sheet music?

I've attached a zip file which contains a recording of me playing The Office theme song, to give you all an idea of where I stand.

Thanks for reading
Several years ago, I found myself in a similar position, having built up a number of skills working on songs my group asked me. I was getting better and better at learning new songs, but not at becoming a better keyboardist. What changed for me was when I realized, that I needed to raise my playing to a new level by focusing on core skills, many of which are mentioned by others who had responded to you. In particular, I focused on speed drills, chord inversions, finger dexterity and better reading skills (not great, just better). My other focus was doing a lot of watching and listening to keyboardists who impressed me (both live performances and videos) and trying my best to imitate one or more things I saw and/or heard.

This approach made a huge difference in my playing and I'm sure yours will too.

Good luck,
Perry
 
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If you search for Rick Beato, you will see a wealth of information on his channel. He also reviews songs in a series called "What Makes This Song Great" and they are very informative :)

Yeah: I also recommend Rick Beato although he's all over the map he can also be useful for those focused on music production and song writing. But sometimes one episode is a huge lesson and because it's streamed you can work your way through multiple times. In one session in particular, he used the keyboard with a visual overlay to demonstrate the use of tri-chords which helped me crack the large nut of playing 9ths, 11ths and 13ths on a keyboard in any key. Maybe give some of his live stream rants a miss although they are sometimes good entertainment value.

I also recommend David Bennett Piano first because as his moniker indicates he's all about keyboards. Those with a classical piano background will likely find his approach more familiar and he uses a lot more music sheet overlays which are useful for those used to reading music - might also be a way to get used to reading music.
 
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I come from a different perspective, bought an electric piano when I was 15, sat in my bedroom teaching myself (Listening to many players and reading Keyboard magazine [No internet way back then] and was good enough to be in a band 5 years later. It was Prog Rock days and I can tell you, I wished I had taken lessons. But I played in bands for the next 10 years, using the wrong fingers to play solos, etc. Now, at 65, I am so, so much better than I was at 25, and you know why? I still practice and play every day I can. Now my nemesis is arthritis in my hands, I can play all out for about an hour before my hands hurt. My point? However you do this- play every day, learn all the songs you can in all genres, you will pick up techniques and ideas from all music. And yep, I am now beginning to play 70's/80's rock/ soft rock with a bunch of guitar players, and I'm the knowledgeable guy in the group for arranging, ways to play these songs, etc. Keep going. Never compare yourself to other players, every day you just have to be a better musician than one person- yourself yesterday.
 
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I come from a different perspective, bought an electric piano when I was 15, sat in my bedroom teaching myself (Listening to many players and reading Keyboard magazine [No internet way back then] and was good enough to be in a band 5 years later. It was Prog Rock days and I can tell you, I wished I had taken lessons. But I played in bands for the next 10 years, using the wrong fingers to play solos, etc. Now, at 65, I am so, so much better than I was at 25, and you know why? I still practice and play every day I can. Now my nemesis is arthritis in my hands, I can play all out for about an hour before my hands hurt. My point? However you do this- play every day, learn all the songs you can in all genres, you will pick up techniques and ideas from all music. And yep, I am now beginning to play 70's/80's rock/ soft rock with a bunch of guitar players, and I'm the knowledgeable guy in the group for arranging, ways to play these songs, etc. Keep going. Never compare yourself to other players, every day you just have to be a better musician than one person- yourself yesterday.
There's always an advantage to playing in a group; I enjoyed playing with a lead guitar who would get this goofy grim and I'd know it was totally on! I find keyboard practice great therapy for arthritis. I agree, practice makes perfect but not necessarily as fast as you'd like. I once heard the great Garth Hudson say he took 2 years off to just work on his left hand; it took me a while to unpack that and, by my reckoning it could take more like 10 but something is finally happening to the point where Lefty is playing parts instead of just plodding through harmony ... then I watch Doctor John and think, Lefty still doesn't know jack (oh well).
 
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You should be practicing with a metronome.

(a) +1 -- but there's something more basic:

. . . I don't get a sense of "pulse" from your playing.

All the notes are there, but the rhythm is loose, and the downbeat isn't emphasized enough to suit me.

(b) I don't know what conditions you were recording in. There's a _lot_ of reverberation, and it muddies-up the sound. Or, you may just be using too much pedal.

. . . What instrument?
. . . Where was the mic?

(c) Even in this age of plague, I'd advise you to find a teacher, and ask:

. . . "What am I doing wrong, and how can I fix it?"


. Charles
 
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I have similar experience to CMRVA (one of the replies you received). I found that by listening to, watching videos of, and trying to play by ear different types of genres of music, it taught me different things that improved my overall playing. For instance, playing contemporary christian music in a praise band at my church taught me a lot of different chord inversions, time signatures, dynamics than playing with my 80-90s pop/rock band. I ended up using the experience and gained knowledge of both bands in each other. I can read music but in my church's praise band we use lead sheets (which contain the vocal melody and the chords). Learning to read them allowed me to do some improvisation, within the structure of the chordal layout of the song, but not be limited to what is musically written on a piece of full blown piano sheet music for that same song. Also, I echo other's suggestion, LEARN MUSIC THEORY. It really helps. Teachers can teach you that or learn on your own, but just do it.
 
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