Learning keyboard - where to begin?


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hey all,

I'm interested in learning the keyboard. I have very little in the way of musical background, and no keyboard experience. I've been searching the net a bit and keep finding old websites or incomplete youtube series. I'm ready to spend some money for a subscription to a website or a DVD series, but I'd like to hear some input before I do this.

Any suggestions on a website or book/dvd series?
 
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Hey Illuminatus1,

If you go the self-taught route I'm confident you could learn plenty just by trawling the net. I found this intriguing website with a very cursory look.

http://www.zebrakeys.com/

I haven't explored it in any depth at all so make no representations for the quality of the lessons nor compatibility with your individual learning style. No doubt you could find plenty more stuff just by taking the time to look. There's a stack of stuff on Youtube too, pretty much every keyboard song you can think of has been put in tutorial mode by some generous and keen folks.

The list of links that Gary/Happyrat1 provided would be a great start. A bit of "suck it and see" required on your part, but no-one can tell you what style of lesson suits you best, you have to figure that one out for yourself.

The other method is to fork out the readies for some lessons with a music teacher. Much more expensive but you get the opportunity to ask lots of questions and have someone who knows what they're doing give you immediate feedback and guidance.

I'll tell you this much: If you are keen enough to devote 30 minutes per day to practice, and have a healthy dose of tenacity, you'll be very pleased with how quickly you learn.

Cheers!
 

happyrat1

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I'd say the best way to get started on his own would be to study the music theory links on how to read notation and chord structure and the wheel of 5ths as well as follow the Youtube channels for some expert visual training.

But Cowboy is also right on the money about taking a few lessons with a qualified instructor.

You'll make much quicker progress if you have a teacher at your side whom you can ask specific questions to.

It would also help to pick up a couple of good books and some simple songbooks for piano.

Here's a couple I recommend.

http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Reading-Music-Book-Understanding/dp/1593373244/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1408471450&sr=8-2&keywords=everything music book

http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Music-Theory-Book-understanding/dp/1440511829/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408471450&sr=8-1&keywords=everything music book

http://www.amazon.com/The-Everythin...8473298&sr=8-1&keywords=everything+piano+book

http://www.amazon.com/Leonard-Student-Piano-Library-Method/dp/0634066269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=piano method book

http://www.amazon.com/Leonard-Student-Piano-Library-Method/dp/0634077805/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y

Gary
 
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I'll echo what Gary said about music theory. Learning what was mentioned above first will make it so much easier to apply when learning a song.
Im sure you could just youtube a tutorial on how to play your favorite song, but watching someone tell you where to put your fingers isn't teaching you anything.
Do the music justice by understanding what your playing.
 
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happyrat1

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A bass player friend of mine with years of jazz schooling once told me you start out learning to play "Yankee Doodle Dandy," spend years working your way up to the "Brandenburg Concertos," then finally graduate and get a job playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy..." :D :D :D

Gary ;)
 
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thank you for the responses! i think i will have to make the investment in a teacher, even if I only get a few lessons a month
 
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I think having a teacher would help you immensely. One lesson per week would be plenty, provided you practice daily in between times. Good luck!
 

SeaGtGruff

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One thing you'll be doing a lot of is playing scales, [sarcasm]which is really, really exciting[/sarcasm]. You'll probably want to play some actual tunes in between practicing scales-- just to keep from falling asleep and to remind yourself that you're trying to learn music-- but scale practicing is important because you need to learn which scales use which black keys (or none at all), plus you need to learn/practice which fingers to use and how to tuck your thumb or reach your middle finger so you can play a long series of notes smoothly. Scales are also a great way to limber-up your fingers and practice your fingering, which is why even highly-accomplished keyboardists practice scales.

As far as playing actual tunes, the books that are designed to teach you keyboarding will contain tunes that were selected to help you develop different techniques and skills, but you'll probably want to also play some popular tunes that you're familiar with. There are a lot of "fake" books that contain simple versions of songs, so you might want to look around and buy one or two fake books that have a lot of songs you'd like to learn how to play.

Another thing that's good to do is learn to play by ear. Songs can be transposed from one key to another, but when you hear a melody in your head and then try to find the correct keys you can pretty much tell when you've hit the right note. Practicing playing by ear will help you recognize notes when you hear them-- "That sounds like F4; I think that might be D3, or maybe it's a D flat; etc."
 
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the complete keyboard player by Kenneth baker series is what I use and I highly recommend it

I been playing a month now and you can progress really quickly with this book

may not be everyone's choice but I don't really care what anybody else thinks :cool:

it has note letters on the staff and finger numbers but it leaves gaps to help you work it out yourself and by book two he stops putting them on ,sure some may say not to use the assists but for me it works and my local teacher recommends the books and uses them

but I tell you something the speed at which you progress is really fast in the begining at least I am two thirds through the book and can play both hands together and can finger three chords on left hand and play five simple melodys on the right without looking at my hands

with accompaniment and fast tempos I am having a blast , sure its getting harder now I moving on from the first five notes but it is fun and rewarding for a complete novice like me its great I tried internet but I can never seem to follow very well for me having a book and just practicing everyday works very well

oh one thing I did learn on the internet was the c scale and how to cross over and under with fingers and thumb

but to knock a few simple tunes out you don't need to know everything about scales etc that can come later its a bit like guitar some know everything all the notes can finger pick do scales and riffs etc but others know very little theory and just play chords but sound really good , depends how far you wanna go with it I guess

mark
 
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the complete keyboard player by Kenneth baker series is what I use and I highly recommend it

I been playing a month now and you can progress really quickly with this book

may not be everyone's choice but I don't really care what anybody else thinks :cool:

it has note letters on the staff and finger numbers but it leaves gaps to help you work it out yourself and by book two he stops putting them on ,sure some may say not to use the assists but for me it works and my local teacher recommends the books and uses them

but I tell you something the speed at which you progress is really fast in the begining at least I am two thirds through the book and can play both hands together and can finger three chords on left hand and play five simple melodys on the right without looking at my hands

with accompaniment and fast tempos I am having a blast , sure its getting harder now I moving on from the first five notes but it is fun and rewarding for a complete novice like me its great I tried internet but I can never seem to follow very well for me having a book and just practicing everyday works very well

oh one thing I did learn on the internet was the c scale and how to cross over and under with fingers and thumb

but to knock a few simple tunes out you don't need to know everything about scales etc that can come later its a bit like guitar some know everything all the notes can finger pick do scales and riffs etc but others know very little theory and just play chords but sound really good , depends how far you wanna go with it I guess

mark
I just looked for The Complete Keyboard Player by Kenneth baker, and there are a bunch of them. What one do we start with?
 
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Playing a Keyboard and playing a Piano is two very different things,

The Kenneth Baker The Complete Keyboard Player series are intended to teach Keyboard and Not the techniques of playing a Piano. The series is aimed at Arranger Keyboard players where Auto Accompaniment is used with a specific Style such as Pop Ballad and the left hand played Chords or rather triggers the Auto Accompaniment by playing a chord, the right hand plays the melody line. Learning this way gets playing recognisable songs quicker and arguably it is an easier route.

In the Kenneth Baker The Complete Piano Player series the teaching is aimed at potential Piano players where left hand plays primarily a Bass line and the melody plays via right hand and as advancement progresses an integrated and co-ordinated left and right hand action ensues. This is the hardest system to master for people of older years.

Your DGX is very good for primarily learning to play Piano with a somewhat limited auto accompaniment capabilities.

If you want to learn keyboard then consider returning your DGX and looking at a Korg PA700 or Yamaha SX700, which are far more capable Arrangers than the DGX is.

Hope this helps.
 

happyrat1

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Seriously Col? You're telling the poor guy to trade in his keyboard for another instrument?

You know what? All keyboard music started out with pure organ, harpsichord and piano notes, arranged by masters like Bach and Mozart.

They didn't have arpeggiator buttons and transpose buttons and (god forbid) auto accompaniment. :p The keyboard feel in those days was horrible and varied widely from unit to unit.

To me it makes sense to study the theory early on regardless of what type of keyboard you're using.

Otherwise you find out it's Xmas and you can't play "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" because you're suddenly faced with a real acoustic piano and no whiz bang buttons to push. :p

Gary ;)
 
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So it looks like for the book I should go after, if I go that way, is The Kenneth Baker The Complete Keyboard Player series.

With regards to returning the keyboard, I actually purchased this one was a step up from my starting budget already. My goals are to have some fun, and have a unit that does provide what this one provides. I am ignorant about playing and arranging. I'm thinking this should give me a good start.

If I learn faster than I anticipate, and want to expand, I'll go down that path then.

Right now I'm at the point of figuring the best method to learn. It appears like (after very little reading at this point) that the lessons from Yamaha are just to play a song and play along with it. I'm not thinking that gives me much of what I'm looking for.

I'm considering looking into Playground Sessions and/or Piano Marvel. Sammy thoughts on those?
 

happyrat1

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If you want structure, visit a music school in your area and purchase a Course Syllabus (for evaluation purposes only ;) )

That will outline the steps any beginner goes thru.

In the meantime you are an adult and can absorb complex thoughts more quickly than a child and it pays to immerse yourself in extra curriculars like Youtube Videos.

Gary ;)
 
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SeaGtGruff

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I think Col's remark about possibly considering returning the DGX and going for something else was contingent upon the intended usage for the keyboard-- as a digital piano, as an arranger, or as something else.

The DGX-660 has arranging or auto accompaniment capabilities, but they're not as sophisticated as those of more expensive arrangers in terms of the number of variations per accompaniment-- two variations as opposed to four variations. The DGX also has no feature for modifying the internal accompaniments, such as found on the more expensive arrangers, so it would be necessary to use third-party computer software if you want to create your own accompaniments or copy and edit the built-in accompaniments. Still, the DGX's arranging capabilities should be adequate for many players, especially those who don't rely heavily on auto accompaniments. The PSR-E models that I own are similar to the DGX as far as their arranging capabilities, but that doesn't hinder me much because I seldom use auto accompaniments anyway.

The DGX also has more simplistic song-recording capabilities than more expensive keyboards. But again, you can work around that by using third-party computer software-- such as a DAW-- instead of relying on the internal song recorder. Again, the PSR-E models that I own are similar to the DGX as far as their song-recording capabilities, but that doesn't hinder me much because I prefer to use a DAW anyway.
 

happyrat1

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Somehow I just get the impression Michael, that between you and Col, you are always the first two to sell someone on buying a Yamaha or Korg Arranger.

The OP simply wants to learn which keys to press to make music. If that's the case you can plug a PSR into a wall outlet and press the demo button. :p

If he really wants to make music then he just has to learn the basics like we all did and choose a better keyboard IF and When the time comes.

How about you guys lighten up on the brand specific sales pitches for a bit and let the people use what they already have?

Honestly sometimes I feel like I'm reading a music store catalog when you guys go off the deep end on arrangers.

Arrangers don't teach people anything about reading and playing music. They are preprogramed bands in boxes that make for lazy and uninspired music and musicians using autochords and arpeggiated accompaniment.

The DGX is just fine for many people. It has a few autoplay functions but it's not enough to cripple a player if he wants to learn jazz or classical along with pop and rock and latin, etc...

Gary ;)
 
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No Gary with an Arranger all you really need is one keyboard to make music and not the whole mass of gear like that which you have in your Apartment. They are the ideal home keyboard for enthusiast players, 1700 voices and over 1000 Styles make them very versatile. Select a Song to play and your left hand triggers the accompaniment, right plays whatever you want. The MIDI Recording in keyboard leaves a Workstation for dead, they are much superior to the antiquated system in a Workstation like a Juno. That said the keybed is not particularly good if the user want to learn to play Piano Style.

The Ops choice of the DGX is a good one as it is arguably the better instrument of its type when compared to offerings by Korg, and Casio, forget Roland they have nothing in the market of this type at the price point of the DGX.

The DGX is a good digital piano and even I have to hand it to Yamaha their piano voices are better than Korg and Casio. It has Arranger functions but these are limited hence the DGX may not be the best choice if the Op want to play Keyboard Style.

We would be remiss of me not to point it out to the Op.
 
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As I started the recent discourse here, I'll pipe up a bit more.

First, I'll say that the discussion is interesting. Consider me a leaky sponge (at 71, my memory isn't as good as it once was, hence the leak:D).

As for my motivations...I was/am very interested in having a keyboard that will provide accompaniment. I interest in being able to play, and not be solo. It's interesting, as I don't at all expect I'll do any playing to an audience larger than 2 (myself and wife), let alone playing gigs somewhere. I love music, and am doing this for the enjoyment, and hopefully with an added benefit that it will stimulate my brain and stave off memory issues (I have no idea if that even can be helped as I age).

So, I purchased this one which I got the impression was more functional in the area of accompaniment than say a $400 unit. I was thinking spending a bit more (double) would pay off given my interests. Of course spending double for better unit can be a possibility until you get to the highest functional unit.

All of this brings up another question I have: Given that you can put down a small number of tracks, one on top of the other (not sure of correct terminology yet), Can sheet music be purchased which offers multiple instrument capabilities? For example, record first layer in piano, next select a different voice, say guitar, next layer sax. I have had that in mind as something to do. So, build my own custom accompaniment, so to speak. This would offer a more interesting and challenging learning experience, and allow some variety to the accompaniment.
 
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